Will the Olympics Break Your Internet?

The worldwide games are sure to have an impact on the world wide web, however judging that impact proves to be more of a science than an art. After all, predictions can be based upon what happened four short years ago, when the 2012 Olympics generated some 628 million video streams and 8.2 billion page views.
Nonetheless, NBC is claiming that the 2016 Olympics will be its “most live Olympics ever”, with over 4,500 hours of coverage streaming to billions of potential viewers. What NBC fails to say is how all that traffic will impact corporate networks. While there is little worry that the Olympics will break the internet, the amount of content available may surely have an impact on business networks, as workers strive to see the latest scores and live stream events.
The potential productivity drain created by the Olympics has many businesses a little worried, after all those businesses want their employees attending to their chores and not attending (virtually) Olympic events. However, the worries should go beyond lost productivity due to workers watching events, the potential for network disruption may raise its ugly head and bring network performance to a crawl, impacting every one and not those just sneaking a peek at a gold medal ceremony.
A recent survey by Riverbed, a WAN optimization vendor, predicts that the bandwidth consumed by the 2016 Olympics will far outpace what was experienced just four years ago at the Beijing based 2008 Olympics, bringing additional doubt that business networks will be able to smoothly handle the strain.
However, there are some simple steps network administrators can take to mitigate bandwidth sapping issues before they bring traffic to a crawl. Respondents to Riverbed’s survey prove to be a fount of actionable information and are offering the following statistics:

  • 69% of those surveyed claimed to have one or more network issues due to employees accessing online games content
  • 85% are expecting to more closely monitor the performance of their networks and applications
  • Only 43% are confident that they will be able to safeguard critical applications during high network demand
  • 12% report that they lack the confidence that their networks will be able to handle the added strain and traffic
  • 70% will limit employees from accessing games content through the network

With the Olympic stage set, network administrators are going to have to deal with the traffic demand proactively, and get their hands a little dirty with the plumbing of their networks. To head off a potential network traffic disaster, Nik Koutsoukos, VP of Product Marketing at Riverbed is offering some free advice.
In a phone interview with GigaOM, Koutsoukos offered that network managers should consider doing the following:

  • Implement real-time end-to-end monitoring for visibility into the network and applications
  • Prioritize and reserve bandwidth for critical applications
  • Distinguish between company assets and BYOD
  • Bring siloed IT teams together to plan for any high priority network events

Koutsoukos’ advice rings true, to be able to manage the bandwidth monster, administrators need to have full visibility into what is exactly happening on the network and how critical applications are being impacted. With that knowledge, administrators can craft bandwidth policies that can strike a happy medium between critical applications and ancillary network usage.

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