While Tom Pore has already warned us of the dangers March Madness poses to networks in corporations that are without a good Internet usage policy, I thought I might put this into perspective with a good example. This one just so happens to be based on a true story.

Opening day of March Madness was here and the office was abuzz with talk of ladders, brackets and favorite teams. Then 8 a.m. rolled around, and everyone grabbed their cup of coffee and started their work day.

It wasn’t long before complaints started to surface of slow Internet connections and flaky applications. Something seemed amiss with the corporate T1. Scrutinizer was on the case!

The first order of business was to load our favorite Cisco NetFlow analysis tool and take a look at the Top Conversations across the T1. Luckily, we anticipated some March Madness activity and, with a little research beforehand, added CBS Sports’ IP address (80.12.192.191 – for us) to our known hosts. Sure enough, the Top Source was CBS Sports.

NetFlow shows CBS Sports as the Top Source on the network

Drilling in on that conversation revealed that it was indeed HTTP traffic. A lot of it!

NetFlow shows HTTP traffic from CBS Sports

Low and behold, the single destination host belonged to our very own rap sensation Mix Master Mitch. So we can now add NCAA Basketball to the list of Mitch’s passions.

NetFlow shows CBS Sports talking to Mix Master Mitch

Flow Analytics Top Flows GadgetWith Flow Analytics installed, the process would be even simpler. As you can see (right), the Top Flows Gadget makes it obvious that both CBS Basketball and Mix Master Mitch are the Top Source and Destination, respectively.

Because of the amazing quality of video that CBS is able to stream to the millions of people watching this event, a single host can easily consume the vast majority of a T1’s available bandwidth. That’s why it is so important for companies to prioritize essential traffic, as well as VoIP and other types of latency sensitive traffic. However, for a lot of us, giving the boss his own private pipe to avoid menacing complaints is not only poor practice, but cost inefficient.

Ultimately, the least invasive and most cost effective method of keeping something like the Presidential Inauguration or March Madness from hindering your network’s throughput is to make employees aware of what kinds of traffic is acceptable, with a good Internet usage policy, and to be able to pinpoint a disturbance when one occurs, with a good NetFlow or sFlow tool.

Kelly Kading author pic

Kelly Kading

Kelly Kading is the Regional Manager for the Northeast US here at Plixer. Kelly strives to deliver the best customer experience possible. He enjoys building relationships with his customers and wants to find the solution to best meet their needs. When not in the office, Kelly tries to always be in the outdoors. His favorite hobbies are hiking, snowshoeing, traveling and generally just being outside!

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