By Brian M. Jacobs
Each year in March, 68 U.S. college basketball teams come together for the Big Dance (also known as March Madness). One of the unique features of this tournament is the first rounds of the tournament occur in a short amount of time; the first 36 games occur over seven days (many during business hours). The proliferation of streaming video, helped by the fact that NCAA.com offers online viewing of all games for a flat price of $4.99, means more employees than ever are able to watch their Alma Maters and favorite teams play in the tournament. TBS and CBS indicated a 47% increase in video streaming of NCAA tournament games in 2011; we anticipate this year’s tournament will blow those numbers out of the water.
This year is the perfect storm for network issues stemming from video streaming — with the advent of BYOD (bring your own devices), most employees have a multitude of ways to use the enterprise network to watch those games. Unlike radio & television broadcasts, there is a linear relationship between the number of viewers and the amount of bandwidth required to sustain those video streams. This presents significant challenges for enterprise network managers, both in understanding the impact of March Madness on the network, and in proactively addressing potential issues before they become outage events.
So, how can you know if your network was affected by March Madness this year? Interface monitoring can help identify increased bandwidth consumption, but provides no insight into the causes of a surge in traffic. Traffic analysis software, such as the FlowMonitor plugin for WhatsUp Gold, can work with flow-capable network hardware to provide insight into the traffic that traverses an enterprise network. FlowMonitor includes predefined reports to help administrators quickly identify top conversations and applications; powerful dynamic filters can be used to easily drill down to expose needed information.
Traffic analysis isn’t only about identifying network hogs; FlowMonitor can help you secure your network too! Use FlowMonitor in conjunction with AlertCenter (part of WhatsUp Gold) to receive instant notification of suspicious network activity; correlate alerts from AlertCenter with system log archives from the WhatsUp Log Management Suite to ensure your data remains safe.
March Madness provides administrators with a real-world example of how valuable traffic analysis can be to an IT organization. You can evaluate WhatsUp Gold, including FlowMonitor and all the other plugins, free for thirty days. See how WhatsUp Gold makes IT management simple!