Dubai, July 28: The 2012 London Summer Olympics, which began yesterday, will have a major impact on businesses in the Middle East and throughout the world as well, according to a recent report by Blue Coat Systems.
Athletes from more than 200 countries will compete for more than 300 gold, silver, and bronze medals in 36 sports. In the region, the Olympics will run through 11 weekdays (out of a total of 17 days) and enterprises will feel the impact of live and delayed video transmission of events that users can easily access while at work.
The enormous volume of recreational video generated by the 2012 Olympics will have a major impact on enterprise networks. If not controlled, this traffic can overpower and disrupt mission-critical business applications for a full two weeks this July.
The cost, in terms of consumed bandwidth capacity, poor application performance, lost productivity, and even customer confidence and revenue, could be huge. Companies in the Middle East require network visibility, control, optimisation, and security to perform effectively during this event — and any future event. For the past 18 to 24 months, network administrators have been experiencing the impact of the Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD, phenomenon. Given that a number of broadcasters have developed mobile applications to deliver Olympics videos to Apple iPhones and iPads, Android phones and tablets, and Windows Mobile devices, there will be a pre-Olympics impact as BYOD users rush to download these apps ahead of the opening ceremonies.
The iPhone/iPad app is 14.9 MB and the Android’s is 11MB. Given that a number of carriers have forced the mobile vendors to limit downloads to non-carrier connections, network administrators will see an impact on network traffic as users download these applications to their mobile devices.
“Using workplace computers or mobile devices [BYOD smartphones or tablets], employees will be watching live video of their favorite sport competitions and playbacks of the events they missed. This will lead to lower network utilisation, misallocation of budget and capacity, slow or unresponsive applications and — importantly — end-user performance complaints,” said Dave Ewart, director of product marketing at Blue Coat Systems.
Business and network impact
Enterprises that don’t have the proper tools and policies in place to control recreational content can see that it consumes 30 to 60 per cent of the average business-hour bandwidth. The Olympics will generate more than 3,500 hours of live streaming video content. At an average of 500Kbps for live streams, Olympic coverage could push recreational consumption of capacity to 90 per cent for some sizes of links; add that to baseline enterprise traffic, and many links will be 100 per cent saturated. This can have catastrophic effects on the business.
Utilisation spikes like this lead to slow or unresponsive applications and end-user performance complaints. The overall result is lower productivity, excess IT costs to troubleshoot and resolve performance problems, and misallocation of budget and capacity.
Mitigating the impact
For many companies with operations scattered throughout the world, mitigating the impact of recreational traffic, including Olympics coverage, is a serious challenge. When 30 to 60 per cent of bandwidth and budget is spent on YouTube and related network traffic, it creates a fundamental misalignment for the business.
If no effort is made to reduce the effects of recreational video on network connections, the 2012 Olympics will have a “follow-the-sun” impact on business operations for two weeks. To mitigate this impact — while not incurring the wrath of working sports enthusiasts — network administrators need three essential capabilities:
To manage application traffic on networks you must be able to see it in a granular fashion that lets you differentiate internal applications from web-based applications and content. Your visibility into network traffic must be granular enough to let you identify it by flow (business vs recreational) and in real time, so you can see traffic bursts, respond quickly, and see instant results.