Royal wedding could be royal pain for IT

Workers sneaking a peek at prince's nuptials could cripple company networks

If your corporate network starts to get a bit sluggish Friday, you might have to blame Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Industry analysts are warning IT administrators that the prince's wedding day could cause a bit of an IT nightmare if too many U.S. workers can't resist watching the pomp and circumstance from their offices.

If enough people are watching the event unfold on a live stream or in online video clips, company networks could become overwhelmed from the extra load.

The prince and his fiance are scheduled to tie the knot at 6 a.m. Eastern time on Friday. And there will be hours more of the big event, including a parade and the couple's appearance for a kiss on a balcony at Buckingham Palace. All of it will be aired on television and online.

So as people arrive at work in the eastern U.S. on Friday morning, many of them are likely to at least take a peek at the events in England -- even if it's just to get a look at the bride's gown or the pageantry of a historic moment.

That added network traffic could wreak havoc with a lot of enterprise systems, said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at Yankee Group.

"There probably will be no shortage of stations live-streaming it, and people will be watching snippets on YouTube," Kerravala said. "This could be quite a big deal for IT. The royal family has wide enough appeal that people are going to watch. It is something that IT should be prepared for."

Carole Theriault, a consultant at Sophos, a U.K.-based security firm, said she's sure that a lot of people will be trying to catch as much of the event as they can.

"These types of events attract both supporters and sneerers alike," she noted. "It is not often any of us get to see royalty of this caliber getting hitched. Were you around when Princess Di was married? I was just a kid living in the back and beyond of Canada and my friends and I were glued to the telly for the day."

Theriault added that this time around, people will be glued to their PCs, laptops and tablets, while they watch live streams or streaming videos -- all while accessing their Twitter and Facebook accounts.

"With video being so easily accessible from work computers, and with a wedding of this magnitude being broadcast far and wide, there will undoubtedly be many outside the U.K. who will be watching on their work devices, most likely visually obscured beneath spreadsheets, presentations slides and email when a boss walks by," she said.

Workers in the U.K. won't have to worry about hiding their wedding viewing from their bosses. Friday is a national holiday in the Great Britain because of the prince's wedding.

So what is an IT administrator to do? Analysts say they can send out warning emails, reminding employees what their clandestine wedding watching can do to the company network.

They also can be realistic and set up a TV in a break room so people can pop in and get their wedding fix and then get back to work.

"IT might want to watch their loads and be ready to limit bandwidth if things get out of hand," said Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group. "Or better yet, encourage interested employees to huddle together in common cubes watching one monitor. This would have the added benefit of keeping them away from the majority of other employees who, while wishing the happy couple well, don't give a crap about watching them get married live."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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