Gone are the days when organizations would give their employees a PC and expect it to be the only device used on the network. It’s a “bring your own device” (BYOD) world out there now, and the trend to allow users to bring their own smart phones, tablets and other mobile gear to work is only going to accelerate.
That means a huge increase in the numbers and types of mobile devices that your network must support. And, as network engineers already know, an iPad or a BlackBerry can suck up just as much network bandwidth as a laptop.
The most recent Allot MobileTrends Report shows an 83% increase in mobile broadband traffic in the second half of 2011 alone. Video streaming, which is notoriously sensitive to fluctuations in network performance, accounts for a whopping 42% of total bandwidth usage.
If employees were simply doing the same work-related activities (creating and saving documents, writing emails, etc.) with their mobile devices that they tend to do with their laptops, BYOD might not be such a big deal. But that’s not what’s likely to happen.
As you might expect, users often use their personal devices for things other than work.
If too many employees are using web-based rich media on their personal mobile devices, they can completely consume your organization’s available Internet bandwidth – resulting in sluggish SaaS applications, poor VoIP call quality, slow virtual desktops, and a general inability to perform useful work. Without an effective way to pinpoint and limit unauthorized activities, it can be next to impossible to deliver consistent network performance.
Here are three sources that demand heavy additional bandwidth utilization. You should aware of and continuously monitoring your network so that you can manage the increase resulting from your employees and their network usage behavior!
#1: Multimedia Streaming
Just like they do at home, you can expect employees to access multimedia and video applications like YouTube Mobile, iTunes, Hulu, Netflix, ESPN and AOL Video on their personal devices at work. These bandwidth-intensive applications can significantly impact the performance of IP-based business services that must now compete for “clean” network capacity. Check out this recent blog post where AppNeta experienced a major slowdown in network performance because an employee was downloading hours of iTunes videos!
#2: Listening to Internet radio
Your employees are accustomed to enjoying Pandora, Spotify, Grooveshark and other Internet radio services at home, and will listen at work without giving a thought to the network performance consequences. It’s only music, right? The truth is that streaming audio is basically equivalent to downloading an infinitely large file. So, when the network slows down or end users start complaining, you need to know exactly which employees are hogging the bandwidth and impacting business productivity.
#3 Gaming (yes, at work!)
Many of your employees are hopelessly obsessed with smart phone-based games like Out of the Park Baseball, Asteroids GUNNER and Ninja Chicken Ooga Booga – of course they’re going to play them at work as well as at home. The question is not whether this will happen, but how you can prevent it from degrading network performance. Since you probably can’t stop them from playing, you need to understand available and utilized bandwidth capacity to assure that this won’t impact your business needs.
There’s no way you can effectively ban mobile devices or rich media access from your network – employees increasingly need these tools to do their jobs. The solution is to give your organization the benefits of BYOD without negative productivity impacts. To do that, you need a way to monitor the bandwidth-intensive connections. But that can be difficult with traditional network tools, because the connections originate inside your firewall.
AppNeta’s PathView Cloud with FlowView service offers an easy-to-use, cost-effective netflow analysis solution that is simpler and faster to deploy and manage than any other network performance management tool available. PathView Cloud with FlowView is the first cloud-based solution that enables you to analyze network activity at both the home office and remote location, and easily view netflow analysis data either within PathView Cloud or with your favorite flow analysis tool.