Palo Alto Networks Finds 2011 Was The Year Enterprises Became Social

A new report by Palo Alto Networks that analyzes data captured by their customers’ firewalls last year shows that 70 different social networks used by more than 1500 of their customers still only account for about one percent of total Internet bandwidth. But while the actual bandwidth is miniscule, it does seem that last year was the year that enterprises began using social networks in earnest in a wider variety of ways. We last covered them in June with the results of one of their earlier research reports.

The current report shows that business users radically increased the amount of time spent looking at their Tweet streams and using Facebook apps. Palo Alto’s firewalls captured 65 different Web-based file sharing services, with an average of 13 being used in each corporation. That is a lot of file sharing going on, to be sure, but still in the aggregate only another one percent of total network bandwidth. And the amount of browser-based file sharing is roughly equal to the amount of social networking going on, in terms of total bandwidth consumption, as you can see from the table below:

More than 90% of the organizations sampled have both file sharing and social networking happening over their networks. The biggest bandwidth hog is Megaupload, which is used for sharing video files. The company found that Megaupload was found in 57% of the organizations it surveyed, yet it consumed the highest proportion of bandwith, a quarter compared to 22% for Dropbox. Here are more stats on the trends that they have observed:

(Click to enlarge.)

Usage of anonymizing tools also rose: Tor is now found on 13% of the corporate networks instrumented by Palo Alto. You can download the report here.

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