Employees watching the Soccer World Cup online will cause major congestion on networks

THE SOCCER WORLD CUP is finally under way, and employees all over the world may be joining in the excitement by watching games online.

In fact, this World Cup presents a potential for unprecedented levels of online video viewing as streaming technology improves.

"Four years ago, video traffic over the Internet was in its infancy, with little content available and poor quality. Today, downloading and watching live and on-demand streams is common," says Nigel Hawthorn, VP EMEA marketing for Blue Coat Systems. The fact that the World Cup is being hosted here also means there will be a huge local following, he explains.

According to a Blue Coat whitepaper called Managing Major Online Events, recreational network usage can consume up to 60% to 70% of a company`s WAN and Internet service links.


The increase in video traffic could be a big problem for companies  the strain on the networks could impact day-to-day business. Hawthorn says: "If employees are allowed access to the video streams and there`s no technology to minimise the impact, then other applications will suffer. Perhaps VOIP will fail or internal applications will have problems." The possibility of networks crashing was predicted by Deloitte`s risk management arm, explains Hawthorn.

To prevent this, companies may ban well-known broadcasters from the network. This, however, poses a risk. "Users will try to get around the ban by searching online for content on the tournament and are likely to be directed to sites hosting that are already being set up to capitalise on the games." But Hawthorn expects the number of companies that will ban these videos outright to be very small. "Most employers want their employees to feel positive about the workplace and are understanding about a relatively small amount of downtime during special events," he says.

, territory manager for Blue Coat Systems, says: "Many SA companies have strict security policies in place around Internet access. This event will put a lot of that to the test."

However, even in companies allowing recreational video traffic, the increased network load could lead to lagging and low quality video - which is very problematic when watching sports.

Hawthorn and Moynihan suggest instead of banning employees from experiencing this historic event, companies should put software in place that minimises the load on the network.


One of the technologies suggested is bandwidth management. This allows the company to define one stream provider as "approved", and is given a high priority, while others are given a low priority or blocked.

Stream splitting, another such technology, allows one stream request to be sent to multiple users at each location simultaneously. This reduces traffic caused by duplicate streams delivering the same content.

Caching allows a company to schedule the video, allowing employees to watch the event off peak time. Once the video is delivered the first time, it is cached, and the same content will then be delivered from the cache, reducing bandwidth 100% for repeated content.

Tags: Leadership