Listening to the radio at work used to be just about keeping the volume down. But with the skyrocketing popularity of Pandora, Vevo.com, Shoutcast, SoundCloud and other Internet radio services, the issue has become one of exhausting scarce bandwidth on overtaxed corporate networks.
Employees are accustomed to enjoying Internet radio services at home, and many no doubt access them at work without even thinking about it. But streaming audio over the company network basically amounts to continuously downloading an endlessly large file.
To those sessions, add the viewing of YouTube, CNN, ESPN, millions watching the Masters and NCAA tournament online during business hours, plus some Skype online video conference calls, and even the most robust network can take a major performance hit.
If enough people are consuming streams of web-based media, especially at peak times, your business may be maxing out its available Internet bandwidth, leading to lost productivity in the form of desperately slow SaaS applications, dropped VoIP calls and crashing virtual desktops.
It can be difficult to police these bandwidth intensive connections with traditional network tools, because they are going out from inside the firewall. And simply blocking streaming video and/or audio on the network is often not a good solution because employees increasingly need access to these rich media information sources to do their jobs.
How can you know where your bandwidth is going and how your network is performing – not only at the home office but also at remote sites? What’s needed are performance management solutions that can 1) detect and notify you about network performance degradation and spikes in bandwidth utilization in real-time, and 2) give you visibility into what applications are running on the network and what IP addresses are associated with them.
On (hopefully) rare occasions you will also want the capability to automatically capture the packets that are being downloaded, for detailed forensic analysis.