Enterprises are refreshing networks sooner says DiData

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In a boon to the network equipment and software market firms are now leaping instead of just looking

Enterprises are refreshing their network equipment earlier in its lifecycle in a move to embrace workplace mobility, the Internet of Things and software-defined networking strategies. But despite the higher refresh rate, networks are getting less secure, largely due to neglected patching.

These are some of the findings from the annual Network Barometer Report published by IT services firm Dimension Data. The report was compiled from data gathered from 300,000 service incidents logged for client networks that Dimension Data supports.

Dimension Data also carried out 320 technology lifecycle management assessments covering 97,000 network devices in organisations of all sizes and all industry sectors across 28 countries.

Network LAN WANAndre van Schalkwyk, senior practice manager, network consulting, Dimension Data, said: “Since 2010, networks had been ageing. This year’s report reverses that trend, and for the first time in five years we’re seeing networks age more slowly.

“Ageing networks are not necessarily a bad thing: companies just need to understand the implications. They require a different support construct, with gradually increasing support costs. On the other hand, this also means that organisations can delay refresh costs.”

He pointed out though that ageing networks are unlikely to support initiatives such as software-defined networking and automation, or be able to handle traffic volumes necessary for collaboration and cloud working.

According to the report, in Europe, Asia-Pacific and Australia, enterprises’ network ages reduced in line with the global average, while in the Americas, the number of ageing and obsolete devices decreased much faster, from 60 percent in the 2015 report to 29 percent in the 2016 Report. This can be attributed to the release of “pent-up spend” following four years of financial constraint, said van Schalkwyk.

Meanwhile, of the 97,000 network devices that Dimension Data discovered, the number of devices that had at least one known security vulnerability increased from 60 percent in the 2015 report to 76 percent in the 2016 report – the highest figure in five years.

In Europe, the rise in network vulnerabilities has been very steep over the last three years, hiking from 26 percent in 2014 to 51 percent in 2015, and to 82 percent in the 2016 report.

Software-defined networking is coming soon, but not just yet. While there is market interest in software-defined networks, they are still early in the adoption cycle and today, said Dimension Data, few organisational networks are capable of supporting a software-defined approach. In 2015, less than 0.4 percent of devices could support software-defined WANs and only 1.3 percent of data centre switches were SDN-ready.

@AntonySavvas