IT managers face 'application anarchy' that eats bandwidth

Survey says 40 percent of bandwidth is consumed by apps

Almost 40 percent of enterprise network bandwidth is being consumed by recreational or non-business critical applications, according to a recent survey of IT managers.

This was one of a number of alarming statistics revealed in a recent survey carried out by Blue Coat Systems.

The survey interviewed 1,000 IT managers and directors, as well as network and security managers worldwide, in organisations with over 500 personnel. In the UK, the survey polled 100 network managers to gather local data.

The survey found that IT managers in the UK are losing control over what applications are running on their networks, with more than half stating that 40 percent of their bandwidth is being swallowed by non-business critical applications.

They also confessed that they lack the granular visibility into the type of applications running across their networks. Indeed, 50 percent of respondents believe that IT knows about 60 percent or less of the actual applications being run on the network.

"We did not ask respondents to break it down, but what we have seen over the years, is the growth of the 'not all good, not all bad' applications such as YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, as well as things like news, shopping, all of which take up bandwidth," said Nigel Hawthorn VP international marketing and channels at Blue Coat.

"These applications are usually not controlled, because it is difficult to work out what the appropriate policy should be," he told Techworld.

"No IT person wants to be a killjoy, and you could also say that some of that content can also be used for business. For example, at Blue Coat we have used LinkedIn in the past to recruit staff, whereas I have viewed product demonstrations on YouTube. It is difficult for IT to make decision about what is and what isn't important."

Fifty six percent of respondents strongly agreed that SOA and Web 2.0 technologies, such as mash-ups and dynamic content, have made it more difficult to determine the nature of application traffic on the network and whether the content is harmful or otherwise.

Hawthorn believes that this is because the world has moved on from a few years ago, when the usual monitoring devices examined traffic by protocol.

"Nowadays, there are so many points of access via browser, which means that it is difficult to work out what is going on," he said. Hawthorn equated it to the Post Office knowing how many parcels they are delivering, but not knowing the parcel's weight or size.

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