Obsolete devices in corporate networks rises to six-year high…

The percentage of ageing and obsolete devices in today’s corporate networks around the globe is at its highest in six years, signalling that the global financial crisis of recent years still has a lingering effect today.

According to Dimension Data’s annual Network Barometer Report 2014 released today, more than 51% of all devices assessed are now ageing or obsolete.

In addition, 27% of all devices are now ‘later’ in their product lifecycle and at the point where the vendor begins to reduce support.

First published in 2009, this year’s report was compiled from technology data gathered in 2013 from 288 technology assessments covering 74,000 technology devices in organisations of all sizes and all industry sectors across 32 countries.

In addition, data was gathered from 91,000 service incidents logged for client networks that Dimension Data supports.

“Over the past few years, we’ve seen the proportion of ageing and obsolete devices steadily increase, and the conventional assumption was that a technology refresh cycle was imminent,” says Raoul Tecala, Dimension Data’s Business Development Director for Networking.

“However, our data reveals that organisations are sweating their network assets for longer than expected.”

Tecala says there are three main drivers behind this trend…

Firstly, following the economic crisis, organisations are keeping a sustained focus on cost savings – particularly reduced capex budgets.

Secondly, there’s a growing availability and uptake of as-a-service ICT consumption models which reduce the need for organisations to invest in their own infrastructure.

Finally, Tecala believes that the advent of programmable, software-defined networks may be causing organisations to ‘wait and see’ before selecting and implementing new technology – a factor he expects will become more influential in the next 18 to 36 months.

“We expect that growth in cloud computing, mobility and the number of connected ‘things’ will put additional strain on the network and that clients will have to re-look their network architecture, not the individual devices,” he explains.

Looking at the data from a regional perspective, the Americas, Asia Pacific, and Europe showed notable increases in the percentage of ageing and obsolete devices, while Australia and Middle East & Africa (MEA) appear to have improved marginally compared to last year.

“Much of the increases can be explained by macroeconomics,” he adds.

“Network spend is often linked to regional economic conditions: it slows down during sluggish periods and accelerates during times of growth.

“Last year, Australia and MEA showed higher percentages (over 50%) of ageing and obsolete devices compared to the Americas (37%), Europe (41%) and Asia Pacific (44%). This trend mirrors the slowdown in MEA and Australia economy.

“Meanwhile the economic slump in Asia Pacific inflated the region’s percentage of ageing devices. The Americas continued its steady growth, which resulted in a higher percentage of ageing devices, although not quite as high as in other regions.”

“Overall, we’re seeing organisations becoming more economical in their approach, and more willing to risk getting by with ageing equipment for the sake of running lean – and sometimes avoiding capex at all costs,” Tecala adds.

“Generally speaking, there’s nothing wrong with organisations sweating their assets for as long as possible, subject to organisational standards and compliance policies as well as architectural plans to meet business requirements.

“The single most important thing organisations can do to ensure their networks are able to support business is to invest in their operational support tools and processes.

“However, it’s best if business needs drive changes in a network’s architecture, rather than refreshing technology simply for the sake of avoiding obsolescence.”

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