Make Sure March Madness Doesn’t Live Up to its Name

Last month, we talked about how to keep the Winter Olympics from clogging up your networks as employees raced to stream live events during the workday.  Well, in the U.S., today and tomorrow are two of the biggest sports streaming days of the year.  Although we’ve already seen some play-in games this week, when Ohio State and Dayton tip-off this afternoon in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, the annual “madness” repeats itself all over again. This is because this next slate of games will run almost continually over the coming 36 hours, mostly during regular business hours.  And let’s be honest, most of us want to sneak a peek at the scores and witness some of the thrilling upsets that happen every year.

As more people try to tune in remotely (most of us can’t be in front of a television for two days straight), March Madness Live will be the place employees flock to online. The digital service is provided by the NCAA along with broadcasters CBS and Turner. March Madness live-streams games to laptops or desktop computers and can be accessed with a range of mobile devices. In fact, like most things, there’s an app for that. March Madness Live can even be downloaded for iOS, Android, Windows phones and Kindle Fires.

While you don’t want to be the authoritarian IT pro who cuts off access, the amount of streaming that will be happening on your network is worth considering. Just as we said about the Sochi Olympics, employees don’t always realize the impact they can have on network performance and how it could impact the entire company. Personal mobile devices can really shut down your corporate wireless network quickly too.

So, the same rules apply here. Again, the only way to analyze this traffic and be able to reroute it or add more capacity is to have full visibility into the network.  There are a couple of “best practices” that make performance of this task more likely to result in a successful outcome.  These include:

  • Baseline your networks BEFORE you need to start “allocating” bandwidth.  If you know what your normal network needs are, you are in a better position to set Quality of Service (QoS) policies to guarantee bandwidth for your mission-critical applications.  Most importantly, don’t be satisfied with simply knowing the “average” bandwidth required – look across a several-day baseline to see usage by hour, and pay close attention to if/when you have microburst activity (applications causing his will most likely be the ones impacted first if your network becomes saturated).
  • Since it is likely that most “non-business web browsing” will happen on Bring your Own Devices (BYODs), which are nearly universally wireless, think about isolating your wireless network from your mission- critical network, and consider putting limits on the outside bandwidth served to that network.
  • Monitor your network closely, and look for signs of issues proactively.  High-resolution network visibility tools are critical to ensuring you will see problems before they impact your enterprise.
  • Assume you will run into issues, and plan what your options are when they occur.  If your playbook has already thought-out and documented options to deal with issues, it is far more likely that you can mitigate issues quickly.

Learn more about our network visibility solutions here, and let’s keep the madness on the court and out of your data centers!


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