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Organisations continue to sweat their IT assets

Dimension Data report sees networks continuing to age for fifth consecutive year

Organisations continue to sweat their IT assets
53% of the over-70,000 technology devices that Dimension Data analysed for the report were either ageing or obsolete

According to Dimension Data's annual Network Barometer report, organisations are sweating their network assets, with networks continuing to age for the fifth consecutive year.

This meant that 53% of the over-70,000 technology devices that Dimension Data analysed for the report were either ageing or obsolete - up by two percentage points since last year. 

The report also noted a slight drop in the percentage of obsolete devices - down to 9% from last year's 11% - while the percentage of ageing has increased by four points. The percentage of the current devices analysed is at its lowest in three years.

The research looked at corporate networks in organisations of all sizes and all industry sectors across 28 countries.

"During the seven-year history of the Network Barometer Report, the average tolerance level for organisation's obsolete devices in their networks has been around 10%. Rarely do organisations allow this to increase beyond 11% before they refresh the relevant devices," said Andre van Schalkwyk, consulting practice manager for Dimension Data's Networking Business Unit. 

"The conventional assumption was that an overall technology refresh was imminent, but our data shows that organisations are refreshing mostly obsolete devices, and are clearly willing to sweat their aging devices for longer than expected. Organisations therefore focus their refresh initiatives mostly on technology that has reached critical lifecycle stages when vendor support is no longer available," explains van Schalkwyk.

Meanwhile, in terms of organisations' operational support maturity, Dimension Data said that, on a scale of five, some 90% of organisations are still at the first or second level of maturity. These levels are characterised by a lack of standard processes, ad hoc troubleshooting tools, and ambiguous roles and responsibilities for IT staff, resulting in extended network downtime and increased operational costs. This is also the reason why 30% of all service incidents are still related to human error, Dimension Data said.

Van Schalkwyk said that mature monitoring, support, and maintenance processes would allow for a higher tolerance for ageing devices in the network. This proves the viability of managing an older network overall, he pointed out.

"That's provided there's sufficient visibility of the lifecycle status of all devices, an understanding of their risk profile depending on their criticality to the infrastructure as a whole, and the proactive management of that risk. Overall, we're seeing a growing need for more effective day-to-day network management across all corporate networks," he said. 

This year's report also found that there had been a slight improvement in the security status of networks this year: the percentage of devices with at least one vulnerability was down to 60% from 74% last year. Dimension Data attributed this to the trend seen in organisations refreshing obsolete devices which have more identified vulnerabilities because of their age. Replacing them would lead to fewer vulnerabilities in the network overall.

And despite the general tendency to sweat assets, organisations are slowly expanding the wireless capabilities of their networks. However, 74% of the wireless access points were still older models that don't support a solid mobility strategy. In addition, the majority of devices are not IPv6-capable yet, many of which require a simple software upgrade to be so. Combined, these factors point to organisations not giving the impact of enterprise mobility, collaboration, and the Internet of Things on the network due strategic consideration yet, Dimension Data said.

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