With as much as 70 percent of the unstructured data traveling across networks being generated by video, it’s understandable that many managed service providers are finding it harder to maintain service levels. After all, video tends to consume significant network bandwidth—at the expense of business-critical applications. In fact, most MSPs are reminded of that this time every year during the March Madness basketball tournament staged by the NCAA.
While March Madness is far from the only network bandwidth culprit, the fact that so many teams are involved in the early stages of the tournament means there are that many more fans trying to watch games that are often played at the same time. To measure just what kind of impact all those fans are having on the network, Wandera, a provider of tools for securing and managing mobile data, commissioned a study of broadband traffic patterns across its U.S. customers, which encompassed roughly 50,000 devices accessing Web sites and mobile applications run by ESPN, CBS Sports, Yahoo, and the NCAA.
The study found that the number of requests per device to these four sports apps increased 41 percent in March compared to February. In addition, the number of U.S. devices connecting to these four sports apps increased 126 percent during that time period. As far as the Web sites themselves are concerned, the number of requests per device to these four sports websites increased 193 percent, while the number of U.S. devices connecting to these them increased 211 percent.
Keeping customers happy
Clearly, there a lot of people watching basketball games while connected to a corporate network. But while there may be a tournament-related spike around this time of year, college basketball games are only one of several sources of network bandwidth consumption that MSPs have to deal with regularly. Everything from World Cup soccer games to baseball playoffs now conspire to consume network bandwidth.
Of course, an MSP can opt to turn off access to these applications and Web sites altogether, but that could aggravate the end customer. After all, many of the people watching college basketball this time of year are alumni of the schools participating in the tournament. As such, they tend to have the kind of jobs that often sign off on the budgets used to pay for managed IT services. Most companies are trying to strike a balance between keeping their employees happy and maintaining productivity in the office.
The good news is that most of the events that drive the amount of bandwidth being consumed are predictable. Armed with the analytics, an MSP can opt to have a conversation with their customers about the impact these events are likely to have on their IT services. It’s then up to the customer to decide where that line between employee morale and business productivity lies.
The challenge MSPs face is making sure they have enough additional network bandwidth available on demand to handle seasonal spikes in video traffic. The good news is that thanks to the rise of cloud video services a lot more of that network bandwidth is now available on demand. After all, it only takes a few customers to indulge their employees to the fullest before the average MSP starts to feel the cascading impact all that video traffic starts to have on its entire IT environment.