March Madness 2016 Streaming Over the Network

NETSCOUT’s Role in Preventing the Games from Impacting Your Network
March Madness basketball

With the first round of March Madness games starting March 17th, and the second round and Sweet 16 continuing during business hours next week, now is the time to start planning for how your company will handle the increased traffic on your network.  CBS & NCAA are streaming all the 2016 NCAA Tournament games live, in hi-definition, and there will certainly be a lot of employees wanting to watch their favorite team while at work.

With NETSCOUT’s performance management solution, it is easy not only to detect how many people are accessing the live video and how much bandwidth is being consumed, but also to alert administrators when this unnecessary traffic starts to impact business critical applications.  With each video stream taking between 2 and 6Mbps of bandwidth and multiple users accessing the content at the same time, it is easy to see how this could present a significant problem for network administrators.

With nGenius ONE, you can classify all the HTTP access by URL to the popular streaming video feeds.  By classifying and grouping the URLs together as an application group or service, you have the power to understand what resources are being consumed by all March Madness streaming content and be able to take preemptive measures to prevent that traffic from having an adverse impact on your business critical applications.  Below is a list of popular URLs that should be defined as individual HTTP applications:

http://mml2016-lh.akamaihd.net

http://cbssports.com

http://cbssportsnetwork.com

http://ncaa.com/

http://comcast.net

http://timewarnercable.com

http://directv.com

http://stream2watch.me

http://freetvall.com

The primary URL that I found for 2016 was mml2016-lh.akamaihd.net

If you want to be thorough, you can also add http://cdn.turner.com – there are multiple hosts used from this domain for different types of media that are interspersed in the webpages, but there are almost certainly other uses for this domain in addition to March Madness.  It would not be correct to call it March Madness, but it is video streaming.

Application utilization alarms can then be enabled to send an alert when these applications begin consuming a high percentage of an Internet link.  This allows network administrators to quickly detect when the streaming video becomes a problem and take immediate action to ensure that the impact is minimal.  Here are a few sample reports of the potential impact of March Madness 2016 as well as how easy it is to isolate the conversation which caused the spike.  If you have already upgraded to nGenius ONE, you can use the new streamlined workflows to view and drilldown into the traffic as necessary.


NETSCOUT_ApplicationService_comments

NETSCOUT_March_Madness_Alert

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NETSCOUT_ApplicationMonitor

NETSCOUT_Application_Monitor

The following are additional screenshots describing exactly how to configure your NETSCOUT solution to monitor the March Madness traffic.

NETSCOUT_Enterprise_Applications NETSCOUTSolution

Once you have defined at least the ncaa.com and the special march madness akamaihd.net URL underneath HTTP in Global Settings, ensure that you have the ASR checkmark selected so that nGenius ONE will monitor the session records.

NETSCOUTServiceHierarchy

Next, create a service for March Madness in the Service Configuration section.  You need to select the service members March Madness and NCAA (or the names you picked when you configured the applications in Global Settings.  You’ll notice that I have selected the Web Services monitor as well.  As an option, you can also create alerts for March Madness triggers, such as high utilization.

NETSCOUT_Alert_Profile

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Be sure to click on the human head icon in the bottom left pane where you created the application service and select the users or groups that you want to have access to this service. Finally, select a service hierarchy to place the new March Madness service from the top left, and click the checkbox to enable March Madness to display. Wait 15 minutes for the first data to populate in the Service Dashboard, and you are finished!


NETSCOUT_nGeniousONE
If you want an overtime graph of the connections going to servers that host March Madness videos, you can also create a Spaces view from within the Service Dashboard to show the number of sessions over time as well as the number of transactions (and many other metrics).

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