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Olympic Data Center Challenges

By TMCnet Special Guest
David White, President North American Operations & Senior VP Global Business Development
July 17, 2012


What do March Madness, the Olympics and the presidential election have in common? All of these “hallmark” events can be expected to create unprecedented challenges for data centers and companies alike that are dependent on the performance of business critical applications.

Factors like the increasing availability of video and high-bandwidth online content and the growing use of smartphones and other devices in the workplace combine to put even more stress on IT networks historically burdened by these and additional mainstream events.

What will these challenges mean for data centers and corporate networks? What impact will this have on application performance? And how can these challenges can be proactively handled?

Take the 2012 Olympic Games for example. BT (News - Alert), the official communications sponsor of the Games, announced in 2009 that the Olympics would be ‘the most complex logistical peacetime challenge [they’ve] had to face’. Every second, BT expects 6GB of information to travel across their Olympic-designated networks -- equivalent to 6,000 novels, or the entire contents of Wikipedia every five seconds. In preparation, BT is investing 640,000 man hours into the Olympics project.

It’s no surprise BT and others involved in the coordination of the Games are concerned about the impact on enterprise networks. Consider a related international event -- the 2011 World Cup. During the World Cup, mobile bandwidth data usage increased by 24 percent and Web browsing traffic increased by 35 percent during match time. YouTube (News - Alert) traffic grew by 32 percent on post-match mornings, while lunchtime matches showed the largest bandwidth increase with 31 percent. Video streaming increased by 11 percent. Enterprise networks faced unprecedented traffic flows.

There are reasons to believe that the NCAA basketball tournament, the Olympics and the presidential election each will generate even greater data levels than another public phenomenon that took place less than 12 months ago. Growing numbers of office-based employees watch online video while at work – some viewing more than one hour of online video per week from the office. A large portion of these events will occur during business hours, and one can expect employees will go online to track their favorite team, athlete or political candidate.

In addition, more and more smartphones and tablets are joining laptops and desktop PCs as new and more pervasive data access points.

So one can take the traffic stats mentioned above, and expand them. If companies aren’t prepared, their business critical applications will be affected as they compete against YouTube, and online video for limited resources. IT departments need to know how to guard against this.

The failure of business critical applications can really cost an organization. For instance, a high-volume retail store payment application could crash due to network congestion. If the application brownout lasts several hours, the monetary impact can be quite significant. IDC recently estimated the cost of one hour of downtime at around $90,000.

There are two solutions: companies can purchase more bandwidth in anticipation of these hallmark events, or they can use what they have more effectively through WAN Governance tools, which monitor and regulate the flow of applications across networks.

Adding more bandwidth isn’t the solution, as more bandwidth is rarely enough. Critical applications will take as much bandwidth as possible, due to the way that Internet protocol is designed. When the network is struggling to deliver resources to the protocol, every data transfer, every application, will try to take as much network resource as possible. This means more bandwidth, applied indiscriminately, isn’t the solution.

The answer instead lies in having tools that allow an IT department to control applications as they flow across the network. Such monitoring and controlling -- known as WAN Governance -- enables IT departments to see how applications are moving, and who is using them and for what purpose. This allows IT departments to then prioritize applications accordingly.

If we think of networks as roads, and applications as cars, a WAN Governance tool might be a police officer. It can direct cars into appropriate queues. It can slow cars that are less critical to the business (for instance, the YouTube car) and prioritize those that the business depends on (such as the Salesforce or SAP (News - Alert) cars). This then allows vehicles to get to their destination in a timely, secure fashion – regardless of the amount of traffic on the “road”.

In 2012, these roads will undoubtedly become more crowded – with college basketball fans, Olympics followers and presidential supporters – but the use of WAN Governance controls will ensure that critical business applications aren’t slowed by this increase in traffic.

David White (News - Alert), President North American Operations & Senior VP Global Business Development. David is a seasoned senior executive with over 25 years’ experience in sales, marketing and business development. David has a strong background in WAN Optimization and has worked extensively in both enterprise and service provider markets.

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Edited by Brooke Neuman