Your Employees, Bandwidth and the Olympics

Up until just the past couple of years having employees watching live events on their computers via the Internet just wasn’t a problem (or an option). Today, however, with thousands of hours of live and streaming media planned for the upcoming Summer games, millions of people are going to be tempted to tune in from work.

Given the 12 hour time zone differences, a lot of popular events will be happening during local working hours. While this won’t pose much of a problem for your network guys, you might want to think about setting some guidelines about acceptable use of company resources (especially, given the fact that employees won’t be getting much done if they spend half the day watching gymnastics).

On the plus side, as far as all this streaming media hogging network bandwidth and slowing things down, it’s probably not going to be a problem, said Dennis Drogseth, VP of IT research firm Enterprise Management Associates. “It would be low on the list of issues in 2008 for most people in network ops.

“If you’re looking at it from a CIO perspective, it’s more than just how much extra bandwidth you have, it’s how do your employees behave because it’s not a one size fits all answer, and what enforcement do you in place to monitor them.”

St. Bernard, a maker of Internet filtering appliances, agrees. Many of their clients are putting in place either acceptable use guidelines and enforcing those policies with St. Bernard’s iPrisim product. While others—perhaps with a nod to the inevitable—are going a step further and setting up viewing PCs in break rooms and other public areas so if people want to watch, at least they are not all doing it at the same time on their work stations. This is especially important, said St. Bernard’s VP of Sales, Steve Yin, if you pay for bandwidth burst capacity.

“What we’ve seen in the past is … a significant up-tick in the amount of traffic that is going on accessing these high bandwidth sites,” said Yin. “The companies that are most progressive on this have established acceptable use policies and it’s not just the IT guy that establishes it, it’s the management team.”

If you are worried about your network being overloaded, you can take some cold comfort in knowing that if bunches of you employees are watching the Olympics chances are very good they won’t be doing much work and, therefore, using the corporate network for anything else. Voilà, problem solved.