Jun 23, 2014
There’s no question that recreational traffic plays havoc with business networks. Between the PGA Masters, NBA March Madness, MTV Music awards, YouTube, and other events, network managers are always struggling to block recreational traffic. This week, of course, viewers across the globe are using the corporate network to find out how Argentina and Lionel Messi are doing or whoever the favorite team might be. This just after the NBA Finals and NHL playoffs just ended, as well as the US Open. By the way, kudos to the PGA Tour, who made it simple to get real time updates and highlights from the US Open any time I wanted.
My feeling on this sort of traffic is that IT departments should stop this trend of fighting to block it, and find ways to minimize the impact. The problem with trying to fight it is that users find a way around it — and they always will.
One way to solve the problem is to simply put up a TV showing the event in a conference room, lunch area, or other shared location. While this won’t fully solve the problem, it will give people the opportunity to just pop their head in and see what’s going on without using the company network.
With respect to managing the network, there are a few tools that network managers should make sure they have on hand. These include:
In addition to the above tools, consider moving to a hybrid WAN architecture. I’ve had a pretty consistent drumbeat on this topic, as I believe it’s something that all organizations should consider. Keep the traditional WAN in place for corporate traffic and then move an Internet based WAN, or even direct access from branches for the recreational traffic. I still think that if it’s architected correctly the legacy WAN could be replaced with Internet links as well, but that’s another argument. At a minimum, use low cost Internet connections as a way of offloading recreational traffic from the same network your business traffic is on.
Image credit: WikiMedia Commons / CC-BY