Whether you’re managing an enterprise, ResNet, healthcare or financial services network, you’re destined to encounter applications (whether critical or non-critical) that will drain your network resources and potentially hamper the performance of other applications, which as we all know, will result in an abundance of user complaints.

You can’t always predict when hot new applications will hit the market or when users will just start consuming a new app, but knowing what to look for is the first step in protecting your network. Here are 5 bandwidth draining trends we think you should be aware of in 2017.

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1.Videos are Going Viral

Unified Communications
When it comes to Unified Communications, video market growth is expected to hit 6.4 billion dollars by 2020.

Video conferencing tools like Skype for Business, are critical applications for many organizations. Let’s take healthcare for example – more than half of U.S. hospitals currently have a telemedicine program. Video conferencing at this volume requires significant bandwidth to provide great user experiences and to ultimately meet your ROI expectations.

Social Media
Many organizations are using video to connect to their customers in new and exciting ways. Organizations use Facebook Live, Instagram Stories and Vine to educate, entertain and engage in real-time with their audience.

And let’s not forget about the Education side of things. 71% of high school students use more than one social media site – with 51% using Instagram and 41% using SnapChat.

Whichever environment you’re managing you can be sure there will be an abundance of social media video traffic running across your network. You need to decide which of these apps are important to your users and/or aligned with your organizational goals to allocate resources efficiently.

Streaming
Netflix may not be commonly used in many enterprises, but it is frequently used on a university campus. Students expect seamless streaming of their favourite TV shows and movies as part of the overall campus experience. It’s important for Higher Ed IT departments to monitor and manage student media consumption efficiently to ensure a great user experience. Check out this IT Pro Survival Guide with some great tips on how to do that effectively.

Oh, and don’t forget about any major sporting event of the year – look out for fans streaming March Madness, the Masters and Wimbledon. Whether in an enterprise or school setting you need to determine if and how network resources will be allocated to these services.

2. Predictable Software Updates

We all know they’re coming – the next big iOS, Windows or Android update. But what is often overlooked is the impact it has on your network resources. Software updates can cause a massive network disruption and be detrimental to the performance of critical applications if not managed proactively.

Check out this article for some great tips on managing iOS updates.

3. Looming Shadow IT

Almost everyone in an organization at one time or another has been guilty of bringing an unauthorized device into the workplace or using an unsanctioned application to help accomplish specific tasks more efficiently.

In fact, 80% of end users have admitted to using software not cleared by IT. And while there may be good intentions behind this behaviour, it still remains one of the biggest challenges facing IT departments today.

Keep an eye out for alternative apps for cloud storage (like Dropbox, Google Drive), UC&C (like Slack) and marketing (Trello, Evernote).

4. Growth in AR & VR

Remember Pokémon GO? Who could forget the clouds of people walking around hoping to fill their Pokédex and trying not to run into stationary objects. This is just the beginning.

AR and VR will become much more mainstream with new devices and apps popping up everywhere in the upcoming year.

For example, virtual reality has become a hot trend in K–12 education, with educational apps like SuperChem VR and Nearpod. You can also expect to see more product extensions of popular social media apps similar to Snap Inc’s Spectacles.

5. Online everything

No matter what industry you’re in, there is good chance that you’re leveraging cloud for some apps already and/or planning to move some of your critical apps to the cloud this year. As more users access information in the cloud, you can bet your bottom dollar more of your network resources will be consumed. And if you don’t assess the resources you have or consider bandwidth requirements before hand, it will more than likely result in poor application performance. No one wants to 2017 to be deemed the year of a poorly planned application rollout.

Old man yells at cloud

If you’re worried about how these bandwidth draining trends will impact your network, don’t be. Awareness is the first step. The next step is ensuring you have the tools in place to continuously monitor network activity and control how resources are allocated to the users, apps and devices on your network. With proper planning and on-going visibility and control, managing applications this year will be a breeze.

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