March Madness Tests IT Rubber Rooms

    March 16, 2006

This is the time of year when office pools run rampant and some research anticipates employees becoming virtually worthless for long periods of time for the next three weeks. This year, all the games will be streaming live online as well. This year however, computer networks could be in for an overload as millions stream live their favorite college basketball games.

By now, many have heard the research reporting U.S. employers will lose around $3.5 billion in productivity during the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament. There are other interesting kernels tied into this whole story and these will certainly affect the network.

First, CBS is offering live, streaming video of the various games. So that means that people in office cubicles around the country can watch Alabama square off against Marquette in the first round. It also mean IT administrators will be squealing like small children as their networks begin to resemble Atlanta during rush hour.

If some business owners feel employees doing actual work is somehow more important than viewing Xavier and Gonzaga, there are options for limiting that access. Companies like Secure Computing offer some alternatives for helping companies manage that massive onslaught of bandwidth consumption.

“With the combination of free streaming video and online betting pools, companies could be faced with serious bandwidth and productivity issues, not to mention many organizations’ prohibition of Internet gambling in their company policy,” said John Doyle, vice president of product marketing for Secure Computing. “Our customers will be able to continue with business-as-usual and not worry about employee distractions on game day.”

The other problem is while all this live feeding is going on, others may be sneaking in and abusing the system. As more and more live feeds pile into the network, it tends to push the limits and can put some strain on said network. This means holes may appear.

Network Security Engineer Jeff Falcon of CDW told TMCnet that, “Increased use of the Web to access streaming video also means increased chances that the integrity of the network will be compromised.”

This means IT administrators must not only worry about controlling access to the live feeds, they must also be especially careful of the what’s coming in more than usual.


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John Stith is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.