When YouTube presents true business value

* One reader's view of YouTube

Recently, we discussed how 2006 saw the growth of bandwidth-hungry applications such as CBS offering live feeds of NCAA’s March Madness and allowing fans to view tournament games for free on NCAASports.com. We also discussed the growth of YouTube and suggested that IT organizations need to be able to keep applications like this off of their WANs.

We received responses from a number of you. One reader pointed out that YouTube is not just a recreational toy. He said: “I believe YouTube can be used for legitimate reasons as long as we put business rules about how the product should be used in the corporate environment. For example, I used YouTube to download videos of the recent Pacific Northwest storm. Why? Because the Pacific Northwest is part of my territory and some of the videos provided me an insiders’ look at the damage when I could not travel there by air. I think if used appropriately the YouTube phenomenon can be a legitimate observation tool. However, I agree that it takes up bandwidth.”

We certainly agree with that feedback. In our response to the reader, we pointed out that Jim used to manage the network for Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). At that time it was determined that a DEC engineer was downloading weather maps and loading them onto a server. The engineer made this well known and encouraged other DEC employees from all over the world to download the weather maps off of his server. This was in the early 1990s, before the use of the Internet took off and when a point-to-point T-1/E-1 was very expensive. Suffice to say, weather maps were not key to DEC's business and the DEC IT organization tried unsuccessfully to keep weather maps off of the network. 

A few years later Jim was consulting with an IT organization and recounted the story of the weather maps. His client pointed out that for 98% of his company weather maps had no business relevance. However, since 2% of his company’s employees dealt in agricultural futures, weather maps were quite critical to them.

The conclusion that we draw is that it is difficult to make a blanket statement that an application such as YouTube or weather maps is always inappropriate and should be kept off of the network. In particular, the business relevance of an application needs to be determined on somewhat of a case-by-case basis. That is an easy statement to make, but it can be very difficult to actually implement.

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