Cisco Blogs


Cisco Blog > Mobility

March (Network) Madness: an IT Manager’s Nightmare…or Slam Dunk?

In the U.S., the “March Madness” NCAA college basketball tournament is one of the most highly viewed online sporting events of the year, with 52 million visits across March Madness on Demand’s broadband and mobile platforms last year.  Even for casual viewers or non-fans who typically don’t pay attention to college basketball the rest of the season, March is the time of year when the eyes of the U.S. sporting world are fixed on the 64 team tournament. Will the Indiana Hoosiers win (as President Obama predicts) or will the Kentucky Wildcats go for their 9th National Championship win?

According to a study conducted by global outplacement firm, Challenger, Gray & Christmas, it is estimated that nearly one-third of all U.S. employees spend three hours or more watching March Madness hoops during the workday – you might even be one of them. Complete your brackets in time? Did you bet a few bucks toward the office pool? Ready to root for your favorite underdog team? Or trash talk with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter?

The only problem is, your IT department might not be ready to handle the increased traffic. Welcome to March (Network) Madness.

With 32 games taking place over a 36-hour period, the first two days of the NCAA tournament are the busiest. And with all but eight games starting before 5:00 p.m. Pacific time, expect quite a few office workers streaming games through the corporate network. Regardless of the size of your company, this can be taxing on the network.

According to Brian Christiansen, head of Cisco’s IT networking services team, on a typical day, Cisco sees 35% of network traffic as video and 25% of traffic as outbound to the Internet. However, during the first two days of March Madness, that number is expected to spike exponentially by as much at five times, as employees will be watching games, checking brackets and sharing commentary on social sites.

This continues an upward trend in the growth of video on the network. According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index, or VNI Study, by 2017, mobile video will represent 66 percent of all mobile traffic, and global mobile traffic will reach 11.2 exabytes per month.

Kip Compton, Cisco CTO of video and collaboration, was interviewed by Dan Simon of CNN and equated this problem to the roads during a traffic jam following a sporting event. “The road is built to carry a certain number of cars, but (because of March Madness video streaming) there may be more cars than the roads are designed to handle.” Compton goes on to describe how work is likely to be disrupted by people watching video of March Madness, causing network slowdowns, but “at Cisco, we allow people to do these things, and they’re accountable for their productivity, but we allow them to access these types of content.”

This CNN interview can be viewed (yes, via streaming video) here.

Also in the news, Brian Christiansen was interviewed by Sean Michael Kerner of Internetnews.com.  In this article, Christiansen addresses the cultural impact of Milennials and the expectations they have when it comes to use of technology and mobile devices in the workplace. “We have a competitive environment for talent in Silicon Valley and we need to support the millennials,” Christensen said. “I view it as critical that we allow the flexibility for people to watch and work…The new generation workforce is not watching things on TV anymore, they are watching streaming video on tablets and other devices. You should expect that will continue to grow.” Kerner continues, “Aside for the workday related impact that March Madness has, there is also the physical impact on the network. Christensen expects that March Madness will increase his network bandwidth demand by as much as 3x over a typical workday.”

Sean Michael Kerner’s interview of Christiansen, “Is Your Network Ready for March Madness?” can be read here.

It’s no secret that IT departments are already feeling the strain on their networks caused by the influx of employee devices, used to access both work applications and entertainment such as the NCAA tournament. Network management from an IT perspective becomes increasingly important, and proactive education and messaging around large consumer trends is key to avoiding problems. Cisco’s Sheila Jordan recently offered a few tips on how to address this device deluge from a network management in the face of the BYOD trend.

When you take into account the expectations of Millennial employees, who expect to have access to HD video streaming (as reported by the 2013 Cisco Connected World Technology Report), you have even greater network complexity due to HD video that wasn’t there a few years ago. Fortunately, according to Christiansen, workers can still be effective if employers create the right policies and environment and give employees the tools they need in order to work productively, even with “distractions.”

Fortunately there are new technologies – embedded at the network level – that can add inherent intelligence to address traffic spikes without the network going down, here are a few recommendations:

1)      Insure you have visibility to your network traffic to set appropriate policies to optimize your environment. Leverage Cisco technologies such as Cisco Application Visibility and Control (AVC) and Cisco Prime Infrastructure to know what applications are using your bandwidth and set policies that are appropriate to your organization.

2)      Protect your users from Internet-based security threats that can be as simple as clicking a URL on a social media site or an advertisement that re-directs users to another site that can hold malware. Ensure you use web security solutions, including either on-premise with Cisco Web Security Appliance and in the cloud with Cisco Cloud Web Security.

3)      Distribute your enterprise Internet Points of Presence (iPoPs) closer to your end users to optimize their Internet experience. As you distribute your iPoPs, use Cisco solutions as part of our Cloud Connected Solutions to easily provide local direct access to the Internet with ability to add security and application optimization solutions.

4)      Leverage burstable circuits for your Internet access, in that way you can insure your Network operators can enjoy March Madness and not March “Network” Madness.

Introduction to Infrastructure for Megatrends

Editors Note (by Lauren): In the delightful haze of posting a blog at midnight last night, I accidentally posted Eric’s blog to Mobility instead of the Borderless blog. If you came here looking for his full post – you can find it here: http://blogs.cisco.com/borderless/infrastructure-for-megatrends/ and the introduction is below for your reading pleasure.

In my job as Cisco’s Field & Sales CTO for Borderless Networks in the Cisco EMEAR Theatre, I have the privilege of working directly with many Cisco customers and partners. The majority of these folks are what you’d call “Technical Decision Makers” and CTOs.  They’re the IT leaders who do the planning, the strategy, and work on the evolution of their infrastructure.

And frankly, in my 20 years in the IT industry, I have never witnessed such a perfect IT storm!

We are in the midst of a time in IT, where, for most organizations, the current megatrends are having a profound impact on the relevance of their IT. This is felt in both the infrastructure technologies as well as the solutions required to support those megatrends.

Read More

Tags:

Enterprise Networks and the Drive for IPv6

It was not that long ago that whenever I read an article about IPv6, it usually discussed how the IPv4 Address depletion in other countries. At that time, the adoption of IPv6 was coming from other countries that where the v4 address space was depleted, the US Government, or Service Provider. Well fast forward only a few years and you can include Enterprise Networks in that mix.

Driving this IPv6 train for enterprise networks is wireless technology and the enabling by-product, BYOD. Wireless technology, in particular, Wi-Fi has grown from a toy to a requirement in most businesses today. We have moved from 802.11b which gave you a max datarate of a paltry 11Mbps to 802.11n to a max datarate of 450Mbps if you currently deploy the Aironet 3600 Access Point that supports 4×4 MIMO; if not, it’s a max datarate of 300Mbps. Never mind the fact that we will soon see the Wave 1 version of 802.11ac will have a datarate of 1.3Gbps and Oh BTW, Wave 2 promises a scorching datarate of 6.9Gbps!

ipv6 bill

Read More »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Have you registered for #CiscoEduForum 2013?

Now is the time to seize these opportunities. To expand education beyond classroom walls.  To help teachers and learners collaborate more effectively. To create new teaching experiences that engage learners and improve outcomes. So tomorrow’s students will be prepared to take on the challenges of a rapidly changing world.

But first, schools of all levels must prepare by arming themselves with a solid network, strong policies, and seamless management.

Cisco’s Virtual Forum for Education can link you with educators and innovation leaders from around the world to talk about best practices and practical strategies to overcome the challenges of mobility and technology in the classroom. You will have the opportunity to interact live with education thought leaders and Cisco experts on trends and technologies that are shaping the future of education.

The virtual event is March 19th, 2013 in the Americas & Europe and March 20th for Asia Pacific.

Register before it’s too late!

Read more on the education blog

For more on Cisco Education solutions, visit Cisco K-12 Education BYOD Solutions.

Watch Now: Connected Passengers: Connected Mobile Experiences for Airports

Wouldn’t it be helpful if a transportation organization or an airport could use Wi-Fi signals and Wi-Fi location services to understand and plan for passenger flow?

The new Cisco Connected Mobile Experiences solution enables airports to not only augment the passenger experience and improve patron satisfaction, but also gain from benefits of greater insights on the passengers passing through their grounds.

Watch our 30 minute webcast (Available On Demand) to learn about the Wi-Fi technology behind the solution and strategies for how to create connected mobile experiences for passengers everywhere. You will learn:

  • How Wi-Fi technology can enable airports to anonymously track passenger flow
  • How location analytics can help airports understand passenger peak days and times
  • How to use customized airport technology developed by leading airport IT provider, SITA
  • How airports can make changes to plan and staff for incoming and outgoing travelers
  • What additional mobile location-based revenue and passenger engagement opportunities are available for airports and transportation organizations

Watch the webinar today! CLICK TO WATCH