How does your company handle recreational use of Internet resources?

* Findings from the recent Network & Application Acceleration seminar

Last week, Network World produced seminars entitled “Network & Application Acceleration: Shifting to a Higher Gear” in San Diego and Denver. Each seminar was moderated by Jim and included a presentation by five leading vendors as well as a lengthy question and answer session. We will use the next few WAN newsletters to discuss how well the vendors’ messages were received by the audience and will also discuss some of the questions that were on the minds of the attendees.

One of the concepts that Packeteer focused on was the composition of traffic that transits the typical enterprise WAN. The Packeteer speaker presented market research that indicated that on average, more than half (53%) of the traffic that transits the enterprise WAN is recreational and that only 14% is mission critical. A naïve reaction to that finding would be that IT organizations should block all recreational traffic; it’s naïve because before that can happen IT organizations need a policy that clearly states what is acceptable use of IT resources.

When asked how many in the audience had such a policy roughly 75% said they did. Jim asked those if their policy allowed recreational traffic such as Web surfing or electronic bill paying. Roughly half of the companies that had an acceptable use policy allow these types of traffic. From this, Jim drew three conclusions: first, if your IT organization does not have an acceptable use policy, you need to create one and that in most cases its creation will involve organizations other than just IT; second, if your acceptable use policy forbids the recreational use of IT resources, you need to implement the capability to keep this traffic off the network; third, if your acceptable use policy allows the recreational use of IT resources, you still need to implement the capability to ensure that this traffic does not interfere with traffic that is both delay-sensitive and more business relevant.

Next time, we’ll describe what Cisco had to say at the seminars. Network World will be producing similar seminars in Philadelphia on May 8 and in Atlanta on May 10. If you are in one of those areas, kindly plan to attend what should be another informative and highly interactive event.

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