Network managers reveal extent of network misuse on their nets

* Survey of network misuse in organizations

In June 2005, we wrote about the importance of having visibility into the applications that are running over the WAN in part because having that visibility allows IT organizations to control network misuse and free up WAN bandwidth. At that time, we defined network misuse to be those instances in which a large percentage of the company’s network is being consumed by supporting traffic that is unauthorized and inappropriate. We are going to come back to the topic of network misuse in this and subsequent newsletters with the intention of describing just how widespread this phenomena is and what companies are doing to control it.

We want to place this discussion of network misuse in the perspective of WAN optimization. Most of what is written about WAN optimization discusses technologies such as caching, compression and protocol acceleration, and their ability to make applications perform better. Making application perform better is generally a good thing. However, it is not necessarily a good thing to make applications that are unauthorized and inappropriate perform better. We believe that successful application delivery requires that IT organizations are able to identify the applications that are running on the network and are able to ensure the acceptable performance of the applications that are relevant to the business while controlling or eliminating applications that are not.

We recently surveyed 321 IT professionals on a variety of topics, including network misuse. One of the questions that we asked was whether or not their company has a written policy regarding network use and misuse; i.e., using the corporate Internet for personal use such as reading e-mail, gaming, downloading videos or music, etc. We were pleased to see that roughly 90% of the respondents indicated that their company had such a policy.

We also asked respondents to identify the types of network misuse that they had found on their network. Just over half indicated that they had found some kind of online gaming on their network; i.e., online poker or Doom. Three quarters had found either Internet radio or streaming video such as sports or news on their network. Controlling these forms of misuse is particularly important because they can consume a significant amount of WAN bandwidth.

In the next two newsletters, we will give some specific examples of the types of misuse people have told us about and will discuss what IT organizations are doing to control misuse. In the meantime, we invite your input. Kindly write to us and tell us about the network misuse you have witnesses, as well as what your organization has done to combat it.

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