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June 7, 2010

Blue Coat warns of World Cup network collapse

Network connections up and down the country will be under huge pressure this summer as workers tune in to watch the World Cup. With at least one England match due to kick off during working hours, Blue Coat is warning that many companies will

By Cbr Rolling Blog

Network connections up and down the country will be under huge pressure this summer as workers tune in to watch the World Cup. With at least one England match due to kick off during working hours, Blue Coat is warning that many companies will struggle to cope with the increased demand for bandwidth.

The network optimisation firm carried out a survey into the attitudes of IT professionals towards World Cup viewing this summer and found that 54% of IT managers believe that employees should be banned from watching games over fears of network congestion.

This attitude could be a result of the fact that 65% of respondents admitted having no policies and 59% have no technology in place to ensure business-critical apps are given priority when the network is congested.

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Nigel Hawthorn, VP EMEA marketing at Blue Coat, told CBR that blocking access to World Cup coverage is not the way forward and companies must realise that this is an on-going issue.

“This is a bigger issue than the World Cup,” he said. “BBC’s iPlayer for example can be set to automatically download programmes, sometimes in HD, and if that happens on the work network then it’ll definitely cause some issues. It won’t just affect the people watching the football, but everyone in the office.”

Blocking access is likely to backfire on a company, Hawthorn insists, as workers may be forced to visit malicious sites to get their World Cup fix. “Blocking is much harder than people think; you can’t block all the possible different sources. It also just encourages workers towards dodgy sites,” he said.

Blue Coat’s ProxySG appliance can analyse traffic as it comes in to the network and if a number of workers are watching the same stream, as appears likely during the World Cup, the streams can be condensed down to a single stream. This reduces bandwidth strain without impacting performance, Blue Coat says.

The appliance can cache websites for faster loading when it is next accessed, including static information such as logo and navigation panels. Information can then be automatically deleted when the storage space gets full, with the less-accessed information being removed first.

“Some networks will fail; that’s inevitable,” Hawthorn concluded. “But companies should embrace this as an opportunity as it only happens occasionally. To save network strain maybe they can plug in a big TV and let workers watch the football on that; it will help them think that they’re working for a great company.” 

 

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