Increase bandwidth by controlling network misuse

* Eliminating network misuse

In previous newsletters, we've discussed the topic of WAN optimization and analyzed some of the key technologies as well as the recent spate of acquisitions in the area. This newsletter will focus on a seldom-mentioned technique that can be used to increase the carrying capacity of the WAN: controlling network misuse.

For the sake of this newsletter, network misuse will be defined as those instances in which a large percentage of the company's network is being consumed by supporting traffic that is unauthorized and inappropriate. If companies can remove inappropriate traffic from the WAN, this functions as a one-time bandwidth increase similar to deploying compression and caching.

While controlling network misuse has always been important, it is currently growing in importance due to all of the creative and taxing forms of misuse.  For example, a credit union recently discovered that one of its branch office employees was consuming half the branch's fractional T-1 by listening to Internet radio.  Another company discovered that one of its employees was a big Jimmy Buffet fan - so much so that the user was continually streaming music from a Jimmy Buffet Web site. One of our personal favorites is that it is now possible to watch major league baseball games over the Internet for a relatively nominal cost.

The first step in controlling network misuse is to gain visibility into the applications that are running over the WAN. The importance of this type of visibility, as well as the technical and organizational inhibitors, will be the subject of future newsletters.

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