March Madness: The Blog

Peter Welcher
Architect, Operations Technical Advisor

I was going to blog on the topical theme of “March Madness” and then was somewhat put off by all the topical / timely Cisco blogs with “March Madness” in their title. I’m not going to let that stop me from following the crowd, however. I have a March Madness related story. It’s about a consulting customer and how they solved the problem of their network and Internet link grinding to a halt due to all the streaming video. One that uses a different solution than in the Cisco blogs I’ve been reading this year.

Company X decided they had no real problem with their employees watching some March Madness during business hours, but that they needed to control the traffic levels. They also usually posted company ads and other material on a cloud video service. This sometimes resulted in traffic surges from employees clicking on links in email announcing the new ads, etc. CSPAN and CNN were also hot sources when something interesting (tsunami, relevant controversial legislation) was on TV.

Company X contacted either a local cable provider or the relevant video sources on the Internet, got permission, possibly paid a fee, and stood up a server on their network to retransmit the video as IP multicast. They had a couple of channels running at a time (something like: internal, CSPAN, CNN, sports). The internal channel carried videos about health, mandatory annual security training, mandatory safety / diversity / HR training, etc. And every year when March Madness rolls around, they don’t suffer from Internet Link Madness, so to speak. At most one stream, instead of hundreds. In actuality, maybe a few more, there’s always someone who “doesn’t get the memo”. Degrade the unicast streams (via QoS / other policing) and people might get the gentle hint, since the multicast video would then have better quality.

Yes, there are a few details I should probably pass along about how they set that up. However, that wasn’t why I was on the site, and I don’t know the exact details of what they got their video feeds in on, and what they used for transcoding and streaming as multicast. There are a number of products that can do that, and “your mileage may vary” anyway.

If you do this at your site, it might be of interest to the readers to know a few specifics. Like what do you use (hardware, software) for the video to multicast head end server(s), what did you do to stay legal with retransmission, etc.

For what it’s worth, we do offer IP (and IPv6) multicast network consulting. Once we determine the requirements, we can help you build a robust IP multicast infrastructure, usually in a relatively small amount of time.

By the way, if you want to see all the Cisco blogs on the topic of “March Madness”, try this google link or search on “march madness”.


The vendors for NFD 5 paid for my travel expenses and perhaps small items, so I wish to disclose that in my blogs now. The vendors in question are: Cisco, Brocade, Juniper, Plexxi, Ruckus, and SolarWinds. I’d like to think that my blogs aren’t influenced by that. Yes, the time spent in presentations and discussion gets me and the other attendees looking at and thinking about the various vendors’ products, marketing spin, and their points of view. I intend to try to remain as objective as possible in my blogs. I’ll concede that cool technology gets my attention!

Stay tuned!

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Nick Kelly

Cybersecurity Engineer, Cisco

Nick has over 20 years of experience in Security Operations and Security Sales. He is an avid student of cybersecurity and regularly engages with the Infosec community at events like BSides, RVASec, Derbycon and more. The son of an FBI forensics director, Nick holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice and is one of Cisco’s Fire Jumper Elite members. When he’s not working, he writes cyberpunk and punches aliens on his Playstation.


Virgilio “BONG” dela Cruz Jr.

CCDP, CCNA V, CCNP, Cisco IPS Express Security for AM/EE
Field Solutions Architect, Tech Data

Virgilio “Bong” has sixteen years of professional experience in IT industry from academe, technical and customer support, pre-sales, post sales, project management, training and enablement. He has worked in Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) as a member of the WAN and LAN Switching team. Bong now works for Tech Data as the Field Solutions Architect with a focus on Cisco Security and holds a few Cisco certifications including Fire Jumper Elite.


John Cavanaugh

CCIE #1066, CCDE #20070002, CCAr
Chief Technology Officer, Practice Lead Security Services, NetCraftsmen

John is our CTO and the practice lead for a talented team of consultants focused on designing and delivering scalable and secure infrastructure solutions to customers across multiple industry verticals and technologies. Previously he has held several positions including Executive Director/Chief Architect for Global Network Services at JPMorgan Chase. In that capacity, he led a team managing network architecture and services.  Prior to his role at JPMorgan Chase, John was a Distinguished Engineer at Cisco working across a number of verticals including Higher Education, Finance, Retail, Government, and Health Care.

He is an expert in working with groups to identify business needs, and align technology strategies to enable business strategies, building in agility and scalability to allow for future changes. John is experienced in the architecture and design of highly available, secure, network infrastructure and data centers, and has worked on projects worldwide. He has worked in both the business and regulatory environments for the design and deployment of complex IT infrastructures.