Thursday, July 13, 2006

Why IT Departments should allow Skype...Your Network Sniffer

I've been having frequent problems with my ADSL connections recently. I have the same provider both at home and at work.

On both connections I get intermittent; seemingly random, outages on the pipe. The service provider has a "help desk" that are typical in Telco environments and IT Companies you know the routine:

  • restart your computer
  • check the cables
  • restart your modem
  • "are you sure you've got the password right? is caps lock on?"
Anyway the problem at home was initially a broken modem after 4 months of use and the problem at work was initially a broken splitter after about 2 weeks of use :(

Anyway getting to the point (finally), how did I know there was a problem with the network in the first place? not just the usual random web page not available (aka someone's turned the server off)

I knew because my trusty network sniffer couldn't find a way out; what is the sniffer I hear you ask?

The answer is Skype!

Wherever I am, inside or outside of a firewall, I know if there is at least one way out to the internet if I see this in the bottom right hand corner
Due to the way that Skype transits the network, generally speaking if it can't create a connection then this means that there isn't one.

If IT departments allowed people to install Skype they would empower the user to alert them very early to a broken network connection. The other benefit, for me, is that inside the firewall I can't use Yahoo or MSN messenger. Again Skype comes up trumps for me as I can use Skype Chat. A big up for Google as well as due to the way that GoogleTalk, a jabber based IM opposed to SIP, is integrated with Gmail I can also use their IM as well.

I'm sure it's a coincidence that both SIP IM's can't get out but Jabber and the Skype propiretary IM's can.

So you know you've got network problems when you see this guy

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