Personal use slowing business apps?
As much as 40% of enterprise WAN capacity could be being used up by recreational web access and bandwidth-hungry personal applications but most network managers cannot tell, because they have only very limited visibility into network activity.
This is one conclusion to be drawn from a new study, which sketches a picture of the potential wastage of valuable bandwidth capacity, with business-critical and personal-use applications competing for the same limited resources.
Nigel Hawthorn of Blue Coat Systems Inc, which commissioned the assessment, commented, “Network managers are facing an uphill battle in ensuring that critical business applications are not being slowed down or impeded by users squandering network resources on recreational usage.”
Browsing is mostly unrestricted. The number of applications being carried on company networks has pretty much doubled over past couple of years. And SOA and Web 2.0 mash-ups and dynamic content has only added to the challenge facing network managers who need decide on the nature of application traffic and whether the content of a packet is mission critical, harmful or otherwise.
The findings of the research show that there is huge potential for organisations to save money, improve security and get better application response times if they could get a better handle on what network traffic is running on the network.
The problem is that most sites lack the insight that is needed.
Market analysts estimate that up to 40% of them will have applied WAN optimisation tools, as one way of side-stepping the bandwidth congestion problem.
But left unchecked the acceleration procedures involved in WAN optimisation will also speed the spread of malware across the network, and quicken the downloading and uploading of inappropriate or personal content.
Hawthorn said that technology like Blue Coat’s is designed to offer network managers complete visibility into the nature of applications running on the network and lets them prioritise and accelerate what is business critical and safe, and stop what is bad.
Last month the company announced it would be tying its application monitoring, WAN optimisation and secure web gateway technologies into an infrastructure platform for network administrators. From there they would get complete network visibility and be able to balance the acceleration, management and security of business applications and web content running across the enterprise.
His VP associate David Asprey told us, “This sort of end-to-end visibility is needed before it becomes possible to set up intelligent policies on the use of network resources. We are not recommending that access to online sites be shut off. But business use of bandwidth has to be prioritised before any personal use of the network. Use of Facebook and MySpace and the like has to be tolerated, but only if they are next in line after the needs of critical business applications have been met.”
The starting point for ensuring effective application response time is having visibility into what is running and understanding how it is performing at any given location for any given user. Gartner has coined the term ‘application fluid network’ to describe an ideal scenario.