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"GOOOOAL" during World Cup can mean "NOOOO" for Network Admins

Level 9

Take a look at Google's doodle from June 23, 2014. How many of us have been guilty of this during the past couple of weeks?


Chances are, many of your end-users are consuming bursts of network traffic to discreetly stream USA games during the FIFA World Cup (true confession – I am guilty as charged). CNET reported a record-breaking 1.7M concurrent viewers using the WatchESPN video-streaming services during the US v. Germany game last week, exceeding 6 Tbps when combined with viewers streaming the simultaneous Ghana v. Portugal game. The previous record was 3.5 Tbps for the US v. Canada men's hockey semifinal during the 2014 Winter Olympics. While colleagues and cohorts are coming together to cheer their country’s team on, IT professionals and upper management have some justifiable concerns.

Typically, business-critical applications or services such as SaaS applications, email, database, file sharing, storage, remote backup, and other revenue generating traffic accounts for around  70% of available bandwidth.  Video and other non-essential activity must duke it out for the remainder. This leaves little precious overhead, especially on your expensive WAN links, for hundreds of surprise pop-up HD streams spread by chat clients. Even with great QoS maps in place, instead of saying GOOOOOOAL!, your network admin yells NOOOOOOO!

While business-critical applications could be put at risk during World Cup games, President Teddy Goalsevelt and Will Ferrell would be devastated to hear that corporations are restricting employees from streaming the World Cup games altogether.

To help you manage this risk while still fulfilling your patriotic duty, we figured we could remind you of some best-practices when it comes to network performance management during popular live streaming events such as the World Cup:

  1. Monitor your current traffic profile
    There are numerous hardware and software tools that allow you to monitor and profile current network traffic to identify when and how bandwidth is being consumed, as well as by whom and by what applications. This way, you can gain real-time visibility into who and what is consuming your bandwidth and whether you need to take action.
  2. Establish traffic management or quality of service (QoS) policies
    Various network traffic management tools allow a business to establish QoS policies to ensure that non business applications are policed or throttled. They can also ensure business-critical traffic such as VoIP or those to your data center or cloud takes priority over non-essential traffic. If video streaming reaches a certain threshold, you can limit the network traffic it consumes in order to leave room for the business-critical applications.
  3. You may not have to add more bandwidth just yet
    Purchasing additional bandwidth is not the only way to increase your capacity. In addition to QoS, technologies such as WAN acceleration and optimization will effectively help improve your WAN performance.

So time to 'fess up: How many of you are watching the game at work? Are you worried about bandwidth consumption?

p.s. If you want to see just how much the FIFA World Cup is slowing your network traffic, you can download a free trial of Netflow Traffic Analyzer for real-time network bandwidth monitoring and traffic analysis.

Level 15

Did anyone actually perform any analysis of the bandwidth during the world cup in 2014 or how about this year for the women?  Just curious.

Level 9

Agreed, would have loved to see the evidence of spikes, perhaps judge a company's patriotism by their bandwidth consumption. Maybe we do a contest next time.

Women's world cup would have been tough. Not too many games were on during work hours in the U.S. Perhaps the Japanese were streaming at work for yesterday's match against England.