Half of enterprise networks will be obsolete within five years

Technology trends such as BYOD, video and virtualization are rapidly consuming network capacity and capabilities, and 45 percent of the enterprise networks assessed during 2011 will be obsolete within five years, according to Dimension Data. This represents a 38 percent increase over the 2010 data, indicating the growing velocity of these technology trends.

Dimension Data conducts the annual Network Barometer Report by evaluating adherence to best practices, potential security vulnerabilities and the end-of-life status of network devices. The 2012 report includes findings from nearly 300 Technology Lifecycle Management (TLM) assessments at enterprise organizations worldwide throughout 2011.

Technology trends are driving architectural upgrades:

  • Of the devices that are now in the obsolescence cycle, the percentage that are at end-of-sale (EoS) increased exponentially from 4.2 percent in 2010 to 70 percent in 2011.
  • Organizations considering desktop virtualization and pervasive video need to refresh their routing and switching infrastructure − only 18 percent of all access switches discovered during the evaluations would be able to support these technologies properly.

Companies are taking risks by pushing technology assets to their limits:

  • Two-thirds of all devices assessed in 2011 had at least one known security vulnerability. Repeat users of the TLM Assessments had a 59 percent vulnerability rate, compared to a higher 75 percent vulnerability rate for non-repeat users.
  • Of the known security vulnerabilities discovered, four of the 10 most prevalent were new. Three of these have a “high severity” rating, and one has a “critical” rating. These findings underscored the need for organizations to ensure that their IOS patch management processes are comprehensive and that they screen for security vulnerabilities regularly.

“The introduction of new technologies into the enterprise environment has accelerated to the point where many corporate networks predate current megatrends such as mobility, virtualization, BYOD and pervasive video,” said Grant Sainsbury, vice president of advanced solutions, Dimension Data. “Developed to give organizations insight into their IT environment, Dimension Data’s Technology Lifecycle Management Assessment provides information that gives organizations visibility into network trends so they are ready for whatever business challenges they may face today and in the future.”

Other key findings in the 2012 Network Barometer report include:

  • The mobility trend and Dimension Data’s prediction that 802.11n access point penetration will be greater than 50 percent next year mandate that organizations must carefully consider the underlying network infrastructure responsible for the distribution and delivery of their communication services.
  • From a lifecycle perspective, the total number of devices that were past end-of-sale jumped from 38 percent to 45 percent, highlighting the fact that organizations must not forget the network as they consider deploying new communication services.
  • This year’s report indicates that while the percentage of devices with security vulnerabilities stayed roughly the same (73 percent last year vs. 75 percent this year), the vulnerability environment is rapidly evolving with four new entrants on the top 10 list – all of which carry relatively high risk ratings.

The complete report is available here.

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