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Are global networks digital-business ready?

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The Network Barometer Report gauges the readiness of today’s networks to support business. The report processes data from 300,000 incidents in 105 countries (from four global service centres) with 1.5 million devices.

Most corporate networks were architected for an out-dated paradigm, and then built and refreshed piecemeal. They’re not ideal for the demands of the future digital business. But things are changing and these have been presenting in Dimension Data’s annual Network Barometer Report.

Key findings of the Network Barometer Report

Key findings for this year’s Network Barometer Report were divided into four dimensions: Lifecycle management, supportability, security and strategy.

Lifecycle management

For the first time in five years, networks are getting younger. 58% of devices are now current, an 11-percentage point increase from last year. Companies are starting to refresh equipment earlier in its lifecycle. Digitisation strategies are top of mind, including workspace mobility and collaboration, the Internet of Things, and automation.

Supportability

ITIL process times are far shorter on networks that we manage. Incident response is 69% faster, and repair is 32% faster on networks monitored and managed by Dimension Data.

Add service desk integration and incident response time is reduced by a further 55%, and incident resolution by a further 36%.

Security

Despite the higher refresh rate, networks are getting less secure, primarily due to neglected patching. 76% of network devices have at least one known security vulnerability, the highest figure in five years, and up from 60% last year. This year, Some industries are getting more secure (retail), others more vulnerable (manufacturing).

Strategy

Adoption of IPv6-ready equipment has risen from 21% to 41% in the last year. While there is market interest in software-defined networks, it’s early in the adoption cycle and today, few organisational networks are capable of supporting a software-defined approach.

Our recommendations

Your network is the platform for your digital business. It needs to be ubiquitous, highly flexible, robust, and secure to adapt easily to business change, while increasing the maturity of your operational support environment. In light of this year’s key findings, we recommend:

  • Network automation is one of the key building blocks to provide the foundation for a digital strategy. Organisations executing digital strategies should refresh networks with equipment capable of supporting automation using software-defined approaches.
  • Standardise the types of technologies used in the network and their configurations as much as possible. This will increase network agility by allowing for faster change management processes, shorten the time to repair, and reduce support costs when devices fail.
  • Since new devices take longer to repair, organisations should architect networks for service availability. Simple break-fix support contracts on single devices are no longer enough. Consider end-to-end service monitoring, automated troubleshooting, and automation contracts.
  • Strategic network transformation should not neglect day-to-day security patching: prioritise patching on business-critical edge and data centre switches, but don’t neglect aggregation and access switches.

You can also read the full 2016 Network Barometer Report to learn more.

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