Video Breaks Out

Last year it was MySpace.com and Facebook.com. This year, it is YouTube.com and Google Videos.

Funny thing: our dual T1s are hammered, nearly all day and sometimes most of the night. We have a packet shaper, we have Websense, but we also have over 700 unique IPs each day sharing the T1s via our proxy server. That’s an increase of around 150 computers per day compared to this time last year. We have more Middle School school-provided laptops, and we have more Upper School home-provided laptops.

So, this may be a twenty percent increase in computers, but our bandwidth is suffering at more than that rate. In fact, it seems that downloads are half as fast as they should be, and maybe one third the speed of a typical DSL connection.

So what’s the culprit? At first, we thought the issue might be too many active Widgets on the Middle School iBooks, and we started to enforce the 2 Widget rule. We know that they can eat up processor cycles pretty fast, and some hit the Internet almost constantly for more data (like PointCast once did).

Last Friday, however, the US students and faculty were gone, and suddenly our bandwidth utilization was less than a half of a typical day. Hmmm– what’s happenning on the US computers that wasn’t as common last year: streaming video?

We’re going to try a test today or tomorrow. We’re going to move the main streaming video sites into a Websense category so that they are blocked during the school day like entertainment or games sites. For teachers, we can disable this block, but we’re going to try it with everyone first. The sites will be accessible about at 3:30 p.m.

Our goal is to get our bandwidth utilization back to reasonable levels, and I’ll post here if we find a correlation.

I’m actually a fan of Youtube.com, even thought I really can’t figure out the copyright infringement issues that seem so common there. The technology is impressive, and it’s interesting to see a real user-created channel of videos on demand for viral marketing and expression. One example.

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