6 WAN Insights: How The Global Pandemic Changes Enterprise Traffic Patterns

As a product manager at Aryaka, I have a massive data lake of WAN usage statistics from hundreds of organizations around the world at my fingertips. A quick analysis of these WAN usage statistics has given me a better insight into how work, as well as enterprise network-traffic-patterns, are being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. All of this, just two weeks after various local governments have begun enforcing social distancing and shelter-in-place orders. An unprecedented number of knowledge workers work now from home, uprooting established enterprise network traffic-design assumptions and often taxing network infrastructures.

1. Video Conferencing is up dramatically

At Aryaka, we optimize various video conferencing services (i.e., 8×8, Blue Jeans, ZOOM, Teams, and more), and just in the last six weeks, video traffic into China increased by more than three times. Face-to-face interaction is clearly an essential tool in remaining productive. Increased video is a prevalent traffic trend we have observed across companies of all sizes in all industry verticals.

Video conferencing usage

2. High-Tech workers have left the campus
WAN bandwidth Tech workers

The graph at the left is the WAN usage profile of a US West Coast Software company, where over the last two weeks, employees have left the campus and moved home. Traffic over the Aryaka Global core has temporarily dropped as the company is in the process of transitioning many of its employees to Aryaka’s Secure Remote Access solution, accelerating connectivity and improving the user experience for mobile users.

3. Knowledge workers are now working from home

The graph below is from a Fortune 100 company using Aryaka’s Secure Remote Access solution for their mobile users. Since the end of February, their mobile usage jumped by almost 3X as COVID-19 made its way around the globe.

Remote workers WAN bandwidth

4. Manufacturing companies just keep humming
Manufacturing firms WAN bandwidth

Dozens of manufacturing companies showed mostly flat WAN traffic over the last couple of months. This may well be because the Aryaka Global solution has enabled these companies to build a resilient global network infrastructure that just keeps humming and prevents disruption.

5. Some companies have slowed or shut down

Unfortunately, we also have observed some companies slowing down, with some even closing entirely. Luckily, this represents a minority of companies. These are typically smaller companies with labor-intensive operations and services that require the on-site presence of employees and find it impossible to offer their services with a remote workforce model.

WAN traffic slowdown
6. We are working more during weekends

It appears there is more traffic on Aryaka’s private core network on the weekends than usual, indicating that employees are working more during these hours. This trend is confirmed by several articles published this week – here’s a typical statement: “..the US had seen the biggest time extension of the normal working day, adding an extra three hours. In the UK, France, Spain, and Canada, working hours have increased by an average of two hours per day ..”. I often find myself now more than usual behind my laptop responding to company emails during or after binge-watching TV shows and movies, as I typically did on weekends before this global phenomenon.

WAN traffic during weekends

Disaster preparedness requires WAN networks built for change

This pandemic will inevitably end, and many companies have realized that a proper disaster recovery plan should include the ability of their employees to work from home at a moment’s notice without compromising productivity, data security, and effective collaboration. Delivering high-performance private WAN connectivity is not without challenges during a major disaster because broadband networks will be heavily stressed. It is telling that Netflix and Facebook are reducing video quality amid this crisis to reduce the strain on the internet.

The challenge is that most companies cannot afford to keep two high-performance private WAN networks up and running for both corporate sites and home offices. Aryaka provides the ability to reallocate private core bandwidth from the enterprise site to the home, the mobile user, the cloud, and to the Data Center with unmatched agility – provisioning times often take far less than 24 hours. And Aryaka’s WAN-as-a-Service delivery model means that changes are implemented through automated orchestration in SmartManage. Aryaka’s support team helps customers with zero-touch installation and configuration of systems – whenever, wherever.

About the Author

Hugo Vliegen

Hugo Vliegen serves as Senior Vice-President of Product Management for Aryaka Networks. Hugo has 25+ years of experience in marketing & technology leadership roles in startups and Fortune 100 companies. Hugo enjoys hiking and jazz piano improvisation.

About the co-author

Paul Liesenberg

Paul is a Senior Manager in Aryaka’s Product Marketing Team. Paul has over 20 years of experience in product marketing, product management, sales engineering, business development and software engineering in Cisco, LiveAction, Bivio Networks and StrataCom. Paul enjoys scuba diving, motorcycles, open software projects and oil painting.