Mobile, Wireless and the NCAA Tournament Crunch

Carl Weinschenk

The consumerization of IT is as big of an issue as there is in the enterprise right now. In most cases, however, the concerns are about how to manage devices and data being carried outside the friendly confines of the office.

There is another issue to think about: devices coming in. Last week, Matt Hamblen at ITWorld wrote about the challenges IT departments face with folks bringing their new iPads into work in an effort to get a free ride on the wireless network. Here's the nub of the challenge:

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Here's a scenario that could give network managers pause: iPad owners looking to avoid downloading high-definition videos or movies over LTE to avoid steep data costs may instead do so over Wi-Fi at work. And what happens when those who buy Wi-Fi-only versions of the iPad, which starts at $499 for a 16GB model, all decide to download app updates at the same time?

While the iPad is the poster boy for the challenge, it's not the only thing to think about. The problem likely will get worse as data-intensive utilizations grow.

It will be interesting to see precisely how the NCAA college basketball tournament impacts things when it begins later this week. Each year, corporate networks (and productivity) bog down as people watch the games. It's a particularly big problem during the early rounds, which have lots of games during the day.

Juxtapose that notion against the thought that mobile devices are superseding wired. Lots of voracious devices were bought since Connecticut beat Butler last April 4. Does that mean the stress formerly put on wired networks will shift to mobile? It makes sense, especially for people who are set with their social networking on their mobile devices and otherwise would be using 3G networks.

Piggybacking on the boss' network apparently is an accepted mini vice. Consider this lead paragraph of a Venture Beat Mobile story about NCAA apps for Android and iOS:

With the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament schedule set as of last night, it's time to get ready to watch the action no matter where you are. With NCAA's brand-new Android app and updated iOS app, you can watch the games even if you're slaving away at work.

The LA Times outlines some of the personal and technical impacts of the first two days of the tournament. Last year, only 19 percent of workers said they didn't spend some time watching games while they were supposed to be doing their jobs. That number could shrink to 14 percent this year, according to an MSN survey cited in the piece.

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