You know, I try to avoid going on wild rants within the confines of this blog but sometimes a geek's gotta do what a geek's gotta do...
I just read an article on how the government in China is taking another stab at blocking access to YouTube. First off, what are they freak'in thinking? Why in the world would you want to block access to content like this? Secondly, how in the world could you possibly think that you could do it? Sure, you might be able to block access to YouTube if you tried really hard and stayed on it as their content delivery systems keep evolving but people will find a way to get to the content that they want I don't care what you do. YouTube is just the most recognizable of providers of content like this - there are many more and blocking access is only going to cause even more distribution of content and innovation within delivery technologies. Technology will find a way folks. It always has and it always will...
I've also started seeing articles talking about the "dangers" of March Madness in corporate networks. What have we come to people? When did internet access and content become something that was so closely scrutinized? What's next, an OS feature where if I type in letters that spell a word that someone has decided isn't appropriate for work it'll just not show the word or give me an error or something? I mean, c'mon people. I agree that we should take adequate precautions to block access to obviously dangerous or inappropriate content, but YouTube videos and basketball games/scores/news?
Look, there are better ways to deal with this than attempting to block access. Here's my Top 5 Ways to Deal with March Madness Traffic on the Corporate Network:
#5 - Make sure that you have prioritized your essential traffic. It's pretty simple. Latency sensitive applications like corporate voice and video get the highest priority. Company sanctioned web traffic comes next followed by e-mail. Everything else falls to the bottom of the stack and is delivered if/when resources are available.
#4 - Have separate internet connections for business-critical apps. I'm seeing this more and more these days. Ship your really critical traffic across this special pipe and everything else across the other one. If you're really trying to make your boss feel special, route all of her traffic across the priority connection but not without first securing your first row parking spot.
#3 - Have a dedicated March Madness news update strategy. Make an event of it. Throw an office party in the breakroom for a night game and have someone send out updates a couple of times per day to the office with scores and updates. This way people won't have to waste time and bandwidth going online and looking for it.
#2 - Talk to your people about your concerns. Look, if your company is up against a crunch and you're seriously worried that productivity may be hurt by people watching games or checking scores from their desks then tell them that. You'll likely find three things. One group of people wasn't getting much done before March Madness hit and this news probably didn't affect them at all. Another group of people isn't in to basketball but just got the message that you need a little something extra from them for the next few weeks and they're going to give it to you. The third group of people are fans and like to work hard so are probably going to pay you back an hour for every 5 minutes they spend on basketball during office hours. March Madness might even increase productivity...
#1 - Get over it. Look, if you've got people working for you that you're worried aren't working hard enough don't blame it on basketball. Chances are that they'd be finding some other reason to goof off any way. Don't punish everyone for their laziness. Most of the people I work with that are fans will probably spend a few minutes or more each day focusing on March Madness. However, that cost is far out-weighed by the fact that they spend a lot of time on the nights and weekends working.
Working hard is a lifestyle. March Madness, YouTube videos, the PGA Tour, or the latest group of models duking it out to see who will be 'America's Next Top Model" won't change who your "go to players" are. I've never known a network engineer or system administrator worth their salt that didn't put in way more ours than they are paid for. Embrace the fact that they're taking a small sliver of their work day to do something that they enjoy and that lets off a little stress and in return are giving huge amounts of their personal time for things that you need.
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