World Cup helps drive networks crazy

Were I to say that everyone's gone football-crazy, it wouldn't be strictly true. I've no interest in it, and I know of others on the ZDNet team who are similarly inclined.

Were I to say that everyone's gone football-crazy, it wouldn't be strictly true. I've no interest in it, and I know of others on the ZDNet team who are similarly inclined.

But according to John Adey, CIO of business-only network provider Star, there's enough footie-bonkerness out there to make a significant difference to the IT networks that businesses use, as thousands of employees watch streamed versions of the World Cup matches. He knows, because he watches the peaks and troughs of daily life -- and, as an aside, it's interesting that he sees a peak every day between at lunchtime, suggesting that whatever use people are making of their office networks between 1200 and 1400, it's much more bandwidth-intensive than what they do when they're working.

And when there's a significant event on -- such as a general election, the Olympics or a World Cup football match with England playing -- the spikes can add 30 to 50 percent to the bandwidth requirements. And 50 percent is what Adey is currently assuming as he plots the timing of England games against his network's daily workload.

The biggest problem for an enterprise IT manager though is that they can't control this network use -- too many people want to watch the games, from the MD downwards. So the best response, reckons Adey, is to get the network provider to prioritise essential traffic such as VoIP and enterprise applications like SAP, and/or to set up a room where anyone can watch a match but ban it everywhere else, which ensures there's only one stream filling that pipe.

This problem isn't going to go away. As video streaming using sites such as the BBC's iPlayer become more popular, the spikes will get bigger -- and they're among the most difficult issues to deal with when planning a network. So Adey suggests that, when surveying the bill for their network provision, companies need to think about what they are paying for.

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