• United States

Packeteer enables net execs to control music file-swapping services

Dec 15, 20033 mins

* Packeteer aims to allow managers to limit bandwidth available for music downloads

New music file sharing services such as Apple’s iTunes are slowing down Internet services for some university and corporate network managers. Now software from Packeteer allows network managers to limit the bandwidth available for the latest music services including Apple iTunes, RealNetworks Rhapsody and the new Napster.

Packeteer in December announced that it was shipping a software plug-in for its PacketShaper product line that allows network managers to detect and control online music services. PacketShapers are network appliances that allow users to guarantee network bandwidth for mission-critical applications while limiting or blocking applications that don’t serve business purposes. The latest music plug-in is available free of charge to customers of Packeteer’s annual software subscription service.

“Anywhere from 5% to 15% of enterprise traffic today is used for music downloads,” says Franklin Jones, director of solutions marketing at Packeteer. “Services like streaming radio are getting very popular at work. We see indications from our customers that it’s going to increase.”

Packeteer recently conducted a survey of more than 190 network executives at companies with annual revenues ranging from $1 million to more than $1 billion. The survey showed that traffic caused by music downloading and exchange was second only to worms and viruses as the respondents’ greatest concern.

Jones says music file sharing is becoming more popular because authorized services such as Apple’s iTunes eliminate the copyright problems that plagued other peer-to-peer music services such as the original Napster, Kazaa and Gnutella.

“People are going to be using these legal services at work,” Jones says. “They’re thinking that there isn’t anything wrong with these services and that they won’t hurt the company. They’re not thinking about the effect on Oracle or SAP.”

Hardest hit by music download services are universities.

Mike Ruiz, network and enterprise systems engineer at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, recently upgraded his PacketShaper with the new music plug-in. The Upstate New York colleges have about 2,300 users on their network, which has a 1G-bit/sec backbone and 100M bit/sec connections to every dorm room.

“We made the decision to adjust our bandwidth to entice students to move from the free music services to the legitimate services,” Ruiz says. The free peer-to-peer services are limited to 4M bits/sec of the school’s 16M bit/sec Internet connection. The new legal music services are not under that bandwidth cap. Instead, Ruiz is using Packeteer’s new plug-in to prioritize the legal services and give them bandwidth right behind the school’s mission-critical and academic applications.

“We’ve been seeing a steady increase in the legitimate services like iTunes, but so many people still use the free services,” Ruiz says. With the new Packeteer plug-in, he’s hoping to “change the culture a little bit and to enhance the network security and safety on the campus.”