How to use application monitoring tools to find out if YouTube and Facebook traffic are stuffing your network

At the turkey or vegan-friendly table for Thanksgiving, we like choices—some like creamed onions and kale salad, others like stuffing in the turkey, others outside the turkey, some with cranberry jelly, others with cranberry chutney. There's flexibility and every family is different.

Just like Thanksgiving, modern IT staff have a bounty of choices to tailor our environments—a one-size-fits-all strategy typically does not work.

So some companies have open environments, others—like many financials—have tighter, regulatory requirements to restrict/limit access to things like FaceBook, YouTube, and Dropbox.  Give thanks that we can do more now.

A Branch Office Gone Wild

As an example, many remote and branch office firewalls typically allow access to popular social media sites like YouTube and Facebook for all employees. Some of the staff for marketing and product management initiatives use these sites for corporate promotions and view them as critical to their success. Others might be using them indiscriminately during business critical hours. However, end-user experience might not be as critical for these apps as for others.

Restricting certain traffic with firewall strategies is one thing, but what about when the recreational and social media apps that you do allow crowd out other business-critical apps such as the ones running over Citrix? A lot of popular sites include streaming HTML5 video and downloading and uploading MBs of video, audio, and graphics files.

Regulating what we do and managing our behavior might be a more costly endeavor than just tuning the IT infrastructure to fit the business needs. Balancing the blend of social and recreational app use with business critical apps should be worked out behind the scenes. IT infrastructure should not get in the way of productivity—that's any productivity.

Tune Your Infrastructure with Riverbed's Performance Platform

Use these basic steps to fix any "branch office gone wild" scenarios that you have:

  1. Allocate bandwidth and accelerate application traffic with Riverbed® Steelhead
  2. Collect flow data and baseline the current traffic for built-in analysis and alerting with Riverbed Cascade
  3. Identify which applications are business critical versus recreational traffic that might not need the same priority
  4. Use QoS traffic shaping your Riverbed Steelhead to prioritize traffic so that business critical traffic does not get crowded out
  5. In the event of performance degradations, use Riverbed path selection to reroute applications through secondary network links

Using this approach, your branch office is always ready to handle the capacity it has at any time of day. The business-critical apps get their full attention and the other apps that might also be critical but not have as much of an impact if they are a bit slower get lower priority. Sound good?

Here's a snapshot of the traffic by port and protocol:

With Riverbed Cascade and Steehead, you get the complete visibility and app acceleration solution at the branch office. With a deep packet inspection (DPI) engine helping you see the traffic and what traffic is running on which port over what protocol, you can quickly fine tune your traffic shaping policies at the branch office. Thankfully.

For more information, see this demonstration video:


Riverbed Performance Management (Cascade & OPNET)

Riverbed Performance Management solutions provide IT with the visibility and actionable insight to help deliver the application performance that users and business demand.

Follow me on Twitter @Not2LateCapHill

Learn more about troubleshooting application performance in branch offices:


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Riverbed, at more than $1 billion in annual revenue, is the leader in application performance infrastructure, delivering the most complete platform for the hybrid enterprise to ensure applications perform as expected, data is always available when needed, and performance issues can be proactively detected and resolved before impacting business performance. Riverbed enables hybrid enterprises to transform application performance into a competitive advantage by maximizing employee productivity and leveraging IT to create new forms of operational agility. Riverbed’s 27,000+ customers include 97% of the Fortune 100 and 98% of the Forbes Global 100.

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