New data published in Dimension Data's annual Network Barometer Report reveals that remote monitoring and automated management reduce the time to troubleshoot faulty networking devices by a massive 75 percent. Consequently, it takes 32 percent less time to repair such devices than those not managed in this way. Furthermore, this year's research again shows a strong correlation between the failures caused by devices and their lifecycle stage.
According to the Report, networks have continued to age for the fifth consecutive year, making 53 percent of the over 70,000 technology devices that were analysed either ageing or obsolete – up by two percentage points since last year. There's also been a slight drop in the percentage of obsolete devices – down to 9 percent from last year's 11 percent – while the percentage of ageing devices 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.
Andre van Schalkwyk, consulting practice manager for Dimension Data's Networking Business Unit said, "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 percent. Rarely do organisations allow this to increase beyond 11 percent before they refresh the relevant devices. 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.
Based on its experience in evaluating organisations' operational support maturity, Dimension Data says that on a scale of five, some 90 percent 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 percent of all service incidents are still related to human error.
Van Schalkwyk points out that mature monitoring, support, and maintenance processes allow for a higher tolerance for ageing devices in the network. This proves the viability of managing an older network overall. "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."
Other key highlights in the 2015 Network Barometer Report include:
- There's been a slight improvement in the security status of networks this year: the percentage of devices with at least one vulnerability is down to 60 percent from 74 percent last year. This change is attributable 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.
- Despite the general tendency to sweat assets, organisations are slowly expanding the wireless capabilities of their networks. However, 74 percent of the wireless access points are 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.