WhatsUp Gold: Daily Network Monitor Blog

Network Monitoring News

By Ennio Carboni

Since the World Cup first kicked-off back on June 12th, we have been covering its impact on application performance and business operations. We asked: would an increase in streaming of the world’s most watched event have an adverse effect on application performance? Now that the Cup is over and Germany beat out Argentina, yes, we can say that network and application performance suffered over the past month. Blame it on Rio.    Blame it on Rio

From the start, it was clear that high viewership numbers would present challenges for IT departments. FIFA reported record numbers of viewers the world over had tuned in during the earlier group stages of the World Cup, with a notable increase in viewers in the United States compared with previous years. According to Forbes, ESPN reported that total average viewership throughout the World Cup was at 56.57 million, with each match involving Team USA garnering an average viewership of 14.14 million. In fact, the USA-Portugal match was the most watched football match ever on US TV – 24.7 million viewers via ESPN and UNIVISION combined – higher than any past NBA Finals game and better than the average viewership of games during the 2013 World Series.

Such high levels of interest from the start suggested that employees would surely be streaming the matches during work hours. This would consume a lot of wireless network bandwidth and stress company networks, including application performance. A report by Cisco found that video streaming and IP broadcast of the World Cup was expected to generate 4.3 exabytes of Internet traffic – nearly three times Brazil’s average monthly traffic. WatchESPN got so many concurrent viewers – a record 1.7 million – that the digital edition of the game sputtered and died for several people.

In anticipation of these concerns, Ipswitch conducted a survey of more than 200 IT administrators which sought to measure the impact of the World Cup on corporate networks and application performance. The results, which confirmed our expectations, indicated the following:

  • Approximately two out of three IT admins (67 percent) experienced application performance problems and network management headaches. These could be directly tied to employees streaming the World Cup across their organization’s wireless network.
  • Of those, 70 percent said that the video streaming of matches had an adverse effect in several areas. Including employee productivity, network and application performance and business operations.
  • Desktop and laptop computers were the most common devices used by employees to stream World Cup matches at nearly 90 percent. Smartphones were not far behind at 83 percent, with tablets showing less popularity at 65 percent.

In some cases, companies chose to handle the problem by playing hardball themselves. For instance, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York banned ESPN from being streamed on employee desktops and laptops because the streaming was causing bandwidth problems at the bank. This proved to be only a temporary fix: employees simply shifted their viewing to Univision.

World Cup viewership continued to break records globally and according to published reports, estimates were that more than one billion viewers would tune into Sunday’s finale. The saving grace for IT being that this was taking place on a non-work day for most organizations.

While the World Cup 2014 is over, it has taught us some valuable lessons along the way. Planning for large scale media events is now a part of the IT puzzle and the ability to anticipate bandwidth spikes that can harm core business functions need to be accounted for. Before the next World Cup we’ll see two more Olympic Games, a new United States President and several other global sporting events. It will be interesting to see if these lessons are applied or if we are doomed to keep repeating our mistakes.

Managing Wireless Bandwidth and Network Traffic Flow

We’d like to help provide guidance on how to manage wireless bandwidth and network traffic flow to optimize application performance. In particular, this Weds, July 16, we will host a webinar that covers:

  • Discovering who consumes bandwidth
  • Monitoring access point health
  • Avoiding access point over-subscription

When: Wednesday, July 16 9 a.m. EDT and 11am EDT

How to register:

 

By Ennio Carboni

Just after the first matches got underway for the 2014 World Cup we put a survey into the field. We wanted to measure the impact the world’s most popular sporting event was having on corporate networks. And whether IT managers and network administrators had heeded the lessons learned from past events to better prepare this time around. With the increased popularity of the World Cup and soccer in general, we were confident there would be a noticeable impact. The majority of World Cup matches would coincide with the heart of the work day here in the United States. And there was wide-spread concern that workers would be streaming matches in record numbers. This would, in effect, adversely affect business operations.   Ball through monitor

Upon completion of the survey our predictions and concerned turned out to be valid. We heard from more than 200 IT administrators and other professionals in the U.S. Among them, approximately two out of three (67 percent) noted that they are currently experiencing IT problems that can be directly tied to employees streaming the World Cup. Even the Wall Street Journal recently reported on network problems due to World Cup streaming.

As to the question of whether they were better prepared based on recent large events, the results were somewhat disappointing. Our survey revealed that only slightly more than half of respondents (53 percent) had a plan in place to deal with the bandwidth spikes caused the World Cup. When plans were in place, most were focused on limiting streaming activity. Setting threshold alarms was the most common with 71 percent of respondents. While monitoring top applications and blocking certain websites received nearly 60 percent each.

Only 32 percent of respondents indicated that they were offsetting World Cup traffic by establishing centralized locations for employees to watch the action. Access was provided via both television and common streaming devices.

We’d love to hear how the World Cup has affected your work lives. Based on our survey results, it looks like it’s been a tough game.  

By Ennio Carboni

Many cash-strapped UK government bodies are spending on network management tools offering features that they either don’t need, or will never use. And they appear unable to easily gather fundamental data about the growing number of devices on their network. UK Flag

How do we know this? We made a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in the UK some months ago and surveyed 634 public sector organizations. We asked about their use of network management and network monitoring tools to manage present and future challenges. These organizations included local authorities, government departments, NHS trusts and universities.

What we found was a general lack of attention paid upon network management and application performance management. Case in point:

  • Even though the vast majority (93 percent) have invested in network management tools, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) cannot distinguish between wired and wireless devices on their network
  • The majority (87 percent) cited network performance as a key priority but less than a quarter (23 percent) bothers to review network performance regularly during office hours.
  • Additionally, just over a third (34 percent) review network performance on a weekly basis or less frequently while one in eight (12 percent) admit to not reviewing network performance at all

This is a perfect storm of device overload and application performance problems that they’ll struggle to manage. Government bodies in the UK should ask themselves what they really need to understand about their network, and ensure they’re using a solution closely aligned to this need.

Public sector organizations, including U.S. Federal agencies, can take control of their networks with a comprehensive, automated network monitoring solution run from a single dashboard. Empowered with this technology, IT professionals within any government organization can:

  • Respond to network problems before users notice, and keep critical systems operational
  • Discover and map an entire civilian or military IT infrastructure (Layer 2/3)
  • Receive network alerts when unauthorized changes are uncovered or when performance falls below preset service levels

 

 

By Steve Hess

openssl-logo-300x81As you may already know, there was a recent Security Advisory about new vulnerabilities in OpenSSL released in early June. This specific flaw requires a vulnerable OpenSSL library active on both the client and server ends of the transaction. The flaw allows a savvy attacker to sit between the client and server and turn off encryption, silently exposing information exchanged between those two end points. Technologies that only use OpenSSL to accept web-browser (HTTPS) connections will be vulnerable to this flaw only when the browser is using a vulnerable version of OpenSSL. Chrome for Android is the only major browser that is currently susceptible.

Security is a top priority for Ipswitch and our customers. Since this announcement, the Ipswitch Security Team has been working to determine the impact and issue patch fixes where vulnerabilities were found.

Impacted Ipswitch products include:

  • MOVEit Mobile & Cloud
  • WS_FTP Client & Server
  • MessageWay
  • IMail
  • WhatsUpGold

Through your Customer Portal you’ll be able to access instructions to properly implement the Security Update for impacted versions as available.

As with any security advisory, we understand that our customers may have additional concerns. If you should have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to the appropriate technical support team:

By Ennio Carboni

Ratings for the 2014 World Cup are beginning to surpass even the most optimistic television executive’s expectations. With the drama unfolding further after every match, viewers are tuning in with record numbers. While this is proving great for television, it is creating obstacles for organizations and their networks. One of the biggest issues facing IT pros is the bring your own device (BYOD) population. iStock_000041710126Medium

The average worker brings with them to the office each day two or more personal devices connected to the corporate network – each of which can be used for streaming World Cup matches. When you have a high-interest match such as the United States vs. Germany set to begin airing at noon ET on Thursday, this creates a situation where streaming is sure to surge resulting in large-scale bandwidth drain.

So the question becomes, how do those charged with network performance account for the sudden spike in usage caused by workers personal devices? There are several options that can help the IT manager limit or even eliminate these spikes.

  1. Substitutions – create alternative viewing options for employees that don’t require them to stream the game through their personal devices. Options could include setting up television viewing stations in break rooms, cafeterias, etc.
  2. Yellow Card – issue a warning to the BYOD crowd that bandwidth limits are being set for streaming and if it crosses a certain threshold, it will be shut down and the stream cut. This ensures that the organization will have sufficient bandwidth remaining to complete critical job functions.
  3. Red Card – block the ability to stream the match completely. While this is sure to illicit a number of complaints from your organizations diehard soccer fans and bandwagon jumpers alike, it is a surefire way to ensure that valuable bandwidth is not consumed for non-work activities and is available for critical business applications.

Depending on your organization and market, bandwidth spikes can have differing effects. It is important to understand patterns of usage and how streaming can affect business operations. Having a firm grasp on the demands of your network will ensure that business isn’t shut out by the World Cup.

 

By Ennio Carboni

Part II of our World Cup series looks at the impact of streaming media on your network and how the decline of television viewership is actually creating bandwidth problems for the enterprise.

TV viewership is on the decline. Yes really, you read that correctly. However, that should not be confused with a decline in media viewing which is actually on the rise. The reality is that more people than ever are streaming video via the Internet rather than getting it through more traditional cable companies.

Bloomberg reported in March of 2014 that the number of Americans who pay for TV through cable, satellite or fiber services fell by more than a quarter of a million in 2013, the first full-year decline, according to research firm SNL Kagan. If the slide continues in the coming years, that means 2012 was the industry’s high point.

world_cup_2014It’s not that viewers are watching less video. Online-streaming services from Netflix and Amazon.com continue to draw more users with shows like “House of Cards,” charging fees of less than $10 a month. What’s changed is that fewer people are willing to shell out $40 a month or more for the wider menu of cable channels. There is a whole new generation of media viewer emerging, commonly referred to as “cord nevers” that are changing the media landscape and the way we think about delivering entertainment. While television remains the dominant entity, it is losing its grip, creating a problem across the networked landscape.

According to an article in re/code last month, Sandvine, the broadband networking company that provides periodic reports on Web usage, says that the top 15 percent of streaming video users go through 212 gigabytes of data month. That’s more than seven times the average broadband user, who uses 29 gigabytes.

When you mix the bandwidth suck created by wide-spread streaming media with the world’s most watched event, you can anticipate that network problems are not only likely, but a near certainty. Factor in the number of networked devices being carried by the average employee and the World Cup has the potential to wreak havoc on your network and slow productivity. That is why it will be critical during the next several weeks of the World Cup for IT to be constantly monitoring network and application performance to ensure it is not adversely effected by employees streaming matches live.

Don’t let unattended streaming kick your network into submission!

By Ennio Carboni

If asked to name the five most-viewed sporting events in the world, what would you say?

Perhaps The World Series, March Madness or Wimbledon?

All good guesses, but you’d be wrong in each case. Here are the top five events when it comes to attracting a media audience, with the most-viewed at the top:

  1. The World Cup
  2. The Olympic Games
  3. ICC Cricket World Cup Championship
  4. Super Bowl
  5. Monaco Grand Prix

iStock_000037172808MediumAnd while they are all on the same list, the standings aren’t even close. The World Cup is far and away the most watched sports event on the planet. Here are some interesting statistics from FIFA’s 2010 World Cup Television Audience Report.

In-home audience reach based on viewers watching at least:

  • 1+ minute of coverage: 3.2 billion representing 46% of the global population in 2010
  • 3+ consecutive minutes of coverage: 2.8 billion representing 41% of the global population in 2010
  • 20+ consecutive minutes of coverage: 2.2 billion representing 32% of the global population in 2010
  • 30+ consecutive minutes of coverage: 2.0 billion representing 29% of the global population in 2010

Think about that for a moment. Nearly half of the world’s population tuned in for at least a brief time to watch one of the 64 matches that make up the World Cup tournament. In fact, FIFA says 909.6 million television viewers watched at least one minute of the 2010 World Cup final at home between Spain and the Netherlands, and the total likely topped a billion when adding online and public screenings. One billion people for one match. Really mind boggling numbers when you consider that the highest-rated Super Bowl (a borderline national holiday in the United States) of all time, the New York Giants vs. the New England Patriots garnered 111.6 million viewers.

With the World Cup set to kick-off today, we thought it would be both an entertaining and informative exercise to look at this event and the potential it has to impact your corporate network. Over the next several weeks we’ll explore what increased viewership of this event, coupled with the increase in networked devices and availability of streaming options mean to your organization.

The world’s most popular sporting event is about to kick-off, is your network ready?

ipswitch_worldcup_june6

By Azmi Jafarey

At a recent CIOboston event by CIOsynergy, I met two folks from Apprenda: Chris Gaun, Senior Product Marketing Manager, and Dave Cohn who heads Northeast Sales for the company.  Apprenda is a ‘Private Platform as a Service’ company that sponsored the event with Microsoft. Both made the remark that IT needs to transition from being a cost center to being a profit center and do so by developing more customer-facing software for the business.

An intriguing concept and one that got the conversation flowing between the three of us and Al Ingram, Director of Operations in my IT department. And it got me thinking.  At Ipswitch, IT worked with R&D on our Licensing System within our products to communicate with an IT-created back-end for product fulfillment and activation. That project certainly would fit the bill. We also manage ecommerce. Plus, as one of the leaders in Salesforce implementation, we have developed many tools and processes that could be shared/sold in the Salesforce ecosystem. sd

But I think this view of IT and what is needed is too narrow. Traditional P&L models, with their roots in manufacturing, assign IT as a cost center. But the way out is to question whether the model needs to be updated, rather than insist that IT produce traditional products that can be sold to customers. There is a value-add to the business from today’s IT that goes beyond viewing it as a sequence of projects or as simply ‘support’ resources. There is sustained return for the business, beyond just the savings that IT may have delivered vs. doing a project using more expensive outside consultants.

Measuring the Impact IT has on Business ROI

Business ROI must have an associated IT fraction that indicates long term value that IT created – it is a shared benefit. I am not suggesting that modeling IT as a profit center will be easy.  Certainly, measuring just IT’s contribution to business productivity has been fraught with difficulty and controversy. But at a time when most IT departments can feel in their bones that they are making a difference to the business and every project is tagged as a business project rather than an IT project (as in the old days) we need these new models to evolve. Such measurement will lead to better valuation of IT: better funding, greater confidence by the business in IT spend, and expanded use of IT as a vital business leader.

By Azmi Jafarey

I recently attended CIOboston, a CIOsynergy event headlined as “A New Dimension to Problem Solving Within the Office of the CIO”. We talked about paradigm shifts propelled by technologies like the cloud, the necessary new engagement models for business and IT and the changing world of expectations to name a few topics. But before getting to all this, our moderator Ty Harmon of 2THEEDGE posed the simple question to the attending 50 or so CIOs and senior IT heads: “What are your challenges?” ww

Here are the answers that I have assembled. I think there is value in seeing what was/is top of mind for IT leaders in raw form:

  • How do we make the right choices between capital and expense?  Service offerings are growing and additive – the spend never ends.
  • How do we integrate multiple cloud vendors to provide business value?
  • User expectations are being set by the likes of Google and Amazon for great UX, 7X24 support, etc. – but it is my IT staff that is expected to deliver all that on our budget. The business does not want to see the price tag – but they want the same experience that is available at home from these giants.
  • IT needs to run like a business but this takes a lot of doing. It matters how we talk and collaborate. We have to deliver business results that must be measurable.
  • Adoption of the cloud is a challenge. How do we assess what is out there? It is not easy to do apples-to-apples comparisons and security is a big concern.
  • How do we go from private to public cloud? Current skill sets are limited.
  • We are constrained by vendors that are not keeping up with the new technologies! One piece of critical software may want an earlier version of Internet Explorer to run; another may use an obsolete version of SQL Server, etc. This clutter prevents IT departments from moving forward.
  • Business complexity is a challenge. IT is asked to automate – but we must push back to first simplify business processes.
  • “Shadow IT” is an issue. A part of the business goes for a “shiny object” rather than focusing on what is the problem that really needs to be solved. They do so without involving IT. Then IT is expected to step in and make it all work, integrate with other software and support it.
  • Proving ROI is a challenge.
  • Balancing performance, scalability and security is tough.
  • How do you choose old vs. new, flexibility vs. security? It isn’t easy.
  • How do we support more and more devices?
  • How do you fill security holes that are in the cloud?
  • How do you manage user expectations, find the balance for supporting them when you have limited resources.
  • Many heads nodded as these challenges were spoken of.  But all agreed that these are exciting times and IT will push forward through them and be recognized as the true business enabler that it is. What are your thoughts—were you nodding your head at these questions?

By Ennio Carboni

Today we announced the results of our BYOD on Campus survey taken by 313 students at colleges and universities around the U.S. The survey highlights the disconnect that exists on college campuses between students and IT professionals who work hard to keep up with Wi-Fi demand. Students often blame the network for slowdowns while doing their homework. In fact, the source of their frustration can be their fellow classmates who are watching shows on Netflix or listening to their favorite music on Spotify. Survey highlights included:

BYOD on Campus

(CLICK TO ENLARGE)

BYOD is BMOC

  • More than two-thirds (67 percent) of students have between 2 – 4 devices connected to their campus networks at any given time.
  • Laptops (86 percent) were the most popular wireless device on campus, followed by mobile phones (77 percent) and tablets (30 percent).

Most students don’t get the “D” in BYOD

  • Nearly three-fourths of all students polled (73 percent) did not know what the “D” stood for in BYOD.
  • More than one-third thought the “D” in BYOD stood for “dinner” while one-third thought it meant “date”.
  • One out of five students (27 percent) correctly identified the term.

Concerns about Wi-Fi and awareness of BYOD policy

  • The top concern registered by students regarding their campus Wi-Fi networks was slow connection time (63 percent), followed by accessibility issues (50 percent) and security (36 percent).
  • Only approximately one in five students (23 percent) surveyed were aware of a campus-wide BYOD policy.

Homework vs. home entertainment

  • The vast majority of students polled use their wireless devices for coursework (94 percent), with more than half (60 percent) spending 1 – 3 hours day doing so.
  • Only one-third of all students polled (33 percent) spend 1 – 3 hours a day doing homework via their wireless devices. Half (51 percent) spend the same amount of time chatting, texting or entertaining themselves.
  • More than three-fifths (63 percent) of students polled spend 1 – 4 hours a day streaming media using services like Spotify, Netflix and YouTube.
  • More than one-third (35 percent) of students indicated that they spend an average of 1 – 2 hours a day streaming media over their campus wireless networks. While 28 percent of them admitted to spending 2 – 4 hours a day doing so.

A high volume of online activity can lead to spikes in network traffic especially during popular events like the recent March Madness basketball tournament. IT professionals can mitigate the resulting problems with network monitoring technology that identifies not only the exact source, but also the people who are hogging wireless bandwidth.