Countdown to March Madness – Let the Network Mayhem Begin!

It’s hard to believe that March 2013 is here ─ and, with it, the year’s greatest college sports month. As college basketball fans around the nation prepare to tune into the biggest tournament of the year, network administrators must prepare for the mayhem that marching to madness inflicts on their network infrastructure.

Historically, IT departments have played the role of network performance gatekeepers, throttling web access, locking down the type of content employees can access, like videos and specific websites – all to protect critical business systems during big events like March Madness. However, in today’s age of BYOD, employees are using personal tablets, smartphones and notebooks while at work, and even though these devices are connected to the wireless network, employees continue to expect to use them to stream their favorite games.  The reality of BYOD voids the old policies and requires network administrators and Managed Service Providers to ensure the network infrastructure is robust enough to handle the increased bandwidth demands.

As a network or systems administrator, or the managed service provider for your customers, it is your responsibility to minimize the business impact and avoid down-time during big events. You need to make sure network performance meets expectations to keep employees productive and critical business systems safe, regardless of increased traffic.  You need to be able to show management, your customers, and your peers quickly and clearly how the network and core applications are performing, so you can focus on more strategic tasks instead of chasing down answers.

With a little bit of proactive planning and the right tools in place, IT admins have a chance to provide this balance. By having in place inexpensive and powerful tools like Dell Foglight NMS, administrators can accurately monitor, identify and address network performance issues before they happen. Here are a few additional tips to help administrators get ready for the big streaming event:

Preparing Your Network for March Madness:

  • Ensure there’s a corporate policy in place to allow streaming (don’t block access)
  • Stress test many network routes to get ahead of issues on the big day
  • Dedicate bandwidth on one network just for streaming, and set up a central office location for employees to gather to watch the games
  • Prioritize and monitor your business-critical apps (internal & external) on the big day
  • Proactively analyze traffic and identify bandwidth hogs
  • Track response time, availability and uptime of key apps like email, file collaboration and payroll
  • Prepare re-routing plans if the network does become sluggish
  • Beef up security and virus protection – as employees bring their own devices to the office, the odds of spreading a virus increase

Looking for more information? Watch this video and enjoy the Madness of March this year. Instead of losing sleep over your network’s performance, you can lose sleep over the performance of your alma mater. 

About the Author: Matt Bolton