Scaling Your Network for a Video-Intensive Workplace
by Stephanie Faris on Monday, March 07 6:00
If your IT fields regular complaints about network speed, you aren t alone. Businesses across the country now struggle to maintain workable speeds, with increasing demands making it difficult for even newer networks to keep up. One of the biggest drains on network bandwidth is video, which has increased substantially in workplace use in recent years.
Even with restrictions placed on user activities, businesses can experience a slowdown due to video use. In addition to watching cat videos on YouTube, workers have professional reasons to use video throughout the day. Video-chat software allows businesses to save money on travel costs by communicating with clients and colleagues from their offices. Workers may also be called upon to attend webinars and other online meetings that require use of the network. If your business s infrastructure can t support increased video use, your employees may find they miss important opportunities. Here are a few ways you can improve your network speeds to meet current and future demands.
Don t Automatically Add Bandwidth
The first instinct of many IT professionals is to simply increase bandwidth when they notice a slowdown. Unfortunately, this often results in a waste of time and money. The amount of bandwidth you need depends on a variety of factors, including the number of devices connecting at a given time, as well as the way you ve structured your network. While high-definition video requires 4Mbps of download speed, videoconferencing needs double that amount, at 8Mbps for tools like Skype, Go To Meeting, and Google Hangouts.
Reconfigure the Network
Sometimes the easiest fix is to simply reconfigure your network so that your route prioritizes media over other types of content. If the slowdown is primarily from employees watching videos for fun, however, this might be an issue. However, it will ensure that when your workers need to participate in a videoconference, that traffic takes top priority on the network. In addition to video, you ll likely want to add voice over IP (VOIP) to your priority list, since one-on-one phone calls and audio conferences are likely a large part of maintaining and building your business operations.
Consider Content Delivery Networks
In recent years, Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) have emerged as a way for IT teams to give a business the reliability and flexibility it needs to meet today s demands. Many businesses now access the benefits of CDNs through cloud service providers that set up servers in locations across the globe. When additional bandwidth is needed or a failure occurs, another location can take over. But one of the biggest benefits of a CDN is its ability to optimize content through file compression, image optimization, and other tools. The end result is a faster network at minimal expense.
As your business grows, the demands on your network will grow, as well. For IT departments, this means taking a look at the infrastructure and making sure it can handle the increased load. In addition to reconfiguring settings and looking at third-party options, businesses can also prevent issues by maintaining network health through strict security protocols.