Music streaming site Spotify is set to celebrate its first anniversary on Wednesday 7 October. In the past year the site has become something of a phenomenon, with office workers across the country embracing it as an alternative to listening to the radio or songs that they and their colleagues have downloaded.

Whilst Spotify offers a great many benefits for music fans, for IT managers it’s yet another application running over their communications infrastructure that they have no visibility of. Concerns are now being raised about how applications such as this are impacting mission-critical applications such as CRM systems or email. But the truth is, network managers simply don’t know and it’s causing a lot of head scratching.

“At the moment when it comes to knowing what data is travelling over their network, businesses are stumbling around in the dark. They can see that there is congestion on the network, but not’s what causing it. It's just like being stuck in a traffic jam on the M25,” said John Cunningham, director of business markets, ntl:Telewest Business.

“Organisations looking to manage their network more efficiently are increasingly finding that they require a detailed insight into which applications consume the most bandwidth so that they can modify their network capacity accordingly,” he said.

Whilst it would be easy to dismiss bandwidth-hungry social media sites and applications as unproductive, and ban them from the work place, it is important that companies consider how these tools are being used for work purposes. Social networking can open up many doors for organisations when used effectively. Whereas in the past business networks were built through the exchange of business cards and face-to-face meetings, this has transferred to the digital sphere. Channels such as Twitter and LinkedIn now offer companies the opportunity to interact with a wider group of customers, and build brand equity.

“Organisations should consider implementing fair usage policies for social media technologies that take into account how they support the business, whilst ensuring that vital applications and systems aren’t impacted. As the industry moves towards a more proactive model of network management, service providers will be unable to ignore the need for increased transparency,” Mr Cunningham concluded.

Published on: 11:47AM on 7th October 2009