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Identify Unauthorized Video Traffic (by Jay Botelho)

Your colleague sends you one of those hilarious viral cat videos; you watch and begin to laugh. You look to the side pane and see another hilarious cat video; you can’t help yourself and click on the next one in the queue. You have fallen under the spell of YouTube, and this is from someone who doesn't like cats. You are not alone.

Whether it’s watching a video for pleasure during your work day or using video for your job – check out “Seven Ways Enterprises are Using Video in Everyday Business” – video is beginning to compete with mission critical enterprise application data. As the volume of video explodes, as it’s predicted to do between now and 2015, this could become one of the most serious issues facing your network. Video demands high quality of service and is one of the most unpredictable data types on your network when it comes to packet sizes and packet bursts. But how do you know who the video bandwidth hog is and whether or not they are using video for business meetings or just watching a cat play a piano?

The three approaches below can help you determine who is inappropriately using video and bogging down your network, and whether the video sources are inside or outside the company.

First approach: Look at your top nodes and protocols and see what your users are doing. If you have nodes that are exceeding your typical baselines, check these first by simply expanding the node to see which protocols are in use. Need help in understanding how to baseline? Check out Getting Network Baselining Right article (PDF) or Jim Thor’s Baseline Product Tips and Tricks to get on the right track. Once you do this you can see if the protocols in use are RTP or HTTP. RTP packets indicate voice or video usage, and big spikes in HTTP traffic typically indicate video downloads. You have all the packets so dig in bit deeper to see where the user is up to.

Second approach: Check your overall network utilization and zoom in on spikes in traffic, which are often indications of video downloads. Zooming in on a spike will identify not only the user, but also the protocols in use and the servers they are communicating with. You might find that someone is simply using the telepresence program you’ve installed, or perhaps is spending way too much time on YouTube.

Third Approach: Create filters and alarms. If you build custom filters for RTP (Real Time Protocol) and Dynamic RTP you can easily see the activity happening on your network that relates strictly to video and voice. You can also create address filters, like for YouTube, to determine if users are abusing certain sites and if this is having a negative effect on your network.

Want to learn more about how video affects your network and best practices for addressing the influx of video on your network? Check out WildPackets’ free webcast “Stop Streaming That Movie – I Need To Check My Email”.

Jay Headshot Wp_logo Author Profile - Jay Botelho is the Director of Product Management at WildPackets, Inc., a leading network analysis solutions provider for networks of all sizes and topologies. Jay holds an MSEE, and is an industry veteran with over 25 years of experience in product management, product marketing, program management and complex analysis. From the first mobile computers developed by GRiD Systems to modern day network infrastructure systems, Jay has been instrumental in setting corporate direction, specifying requirements for industry-leading hardware and software products, and growing product sales through targeted product marketing.