YouTube, video e-mails causing headaches for WAN administrators

* The rise in the new class of unwarranted traffic

The 2007 WAN budget for most IT organizations will either be equal to last year or be up by a few percentage points. With all of the additional legitimate business demands being made on the network, the last thing that IT needs to see is the growth of bandwidth-hungry recreational applications. As we have suggested in previous newsletters, IT groups need to control these applications in order to ensure acceptable performance of legitimate business services.

However, controlling these recreational apps became harder in 2006. Looking back through the year, we can clearly see that online streaming of both sports and entertainment became much more common than ever. Perhaps the best example is CBS’ live feeds of the NCAA March Madness. Fans could view tournament games for free on NCAASports.com, which is powered by Sportsline. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise to anyone that the games set records for online audience numbers. Since some companies banned CBS.com in the office, the TV network installed a "Boss Button" on its site, which quickly turned the screen into a bogus spreadsheet for employees who needed to pretend they were working. But it was not just basketball; in June, when soccer fever took hold in the United States and elsewhere, ESPN offered free streaming of World Cup games online through Verizon, Adelphia and other carriers.

In addition to the growth in streaming events, 2006 also saw the rise of multimedia, with the ascension of YouTube and also the increase in multimedia e-mails. Playing off the old adage that if you snooze you loose, I find it hard to believe that YouTube began life less than two years ago; it's now one of the most popular sites on the Web, attracting 81 million monthly visitors to its collection of quirky videos. YouTube is more than a fun activity for people with too much time on their hands - it is also big business. In case you missed it, in late 2006 Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion.

2006 also saw the rise of multimedia e-mails. This relatively simple technology lets senders include video clips in messages. The last thing that any IT organization needs is to have employees come back to work the first of the year and decide to share with all of their colleagues a video of the ski vacation they took over the holidays.

Hopefully you all had a relaxing holiday season. You will need the rest to help you prepare for all of the challenges that 2007 will present.

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