By Maximilian Clarke

Employees’ online procrastination can choke company networks, crippling crucial applications and causing significant damage to smaller businesses, research has found.

Analysis of client audits carried out over four years by Intergence Systems, a leading independent IT optimisation consultancy, has revealed that in 90% of cases, web traffic is one of the top three contributors to network traffic; and that out of that 90%, web traffic forms between 10% and 30% of the traffic overload during any given 24 hour period. During the working day, this percentage of traffic can rise to over 75%.

“During a working day, unmanaged web-browsing (often on Facebook or You Tube) can introduce enough traffic into a network to have a major impact on business critical applications, especially those sensitive to network congestion,” commemted Peter Job, CEO of Intergence. “Companies might be paying for bigger pipes than are necessary to increase their bandwidth on the mistaken assumption that all the traffic they are carrying is essential. In fact, in our experience, most companies don’t know exactly what traffic they are carrying.”

The research found that the only two applications which consistently contribute more traffic to company networks are backups (which typically take place out-of-hours) and Server Message Blocks/Common Internet File Systems (SMBs/CIFS) which provide shared access to files, printers, serial ports, and other miscellaneous communications between nodes on a network.

Intergence’s monitoring allows IT managers to see exactly what websites are being looked at, so that they can identify if it is legitimate browsing for work purposes or whether it is on recreational sites such as Facebook or You Tube. If, for example, there is a lot of web traffic (HTTP/HTTPS), going to a server which is known to be a webmail server, then that traffic will be re-filed under “email” and so doesn’t count towards the other web traffic which is going to external servers.

“Rich content is a major problem as services like Facebook add more and more functions, but Intergence can install specialist software that can monitor and measure who is using what and when, giving IT managers full visibility of application traffic,” continues Job.

This can enable them to:
• Install application performance SLAs
• Synchronise their WAN with business objectives
• Communicate high-level KPIs across the business
• Justify, control and reduce IT costs
• Improve critical application performance

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