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Report: BYOD, Virtualization, Mobile Will Make 45% of Networks Obsolete by 2016

Bandwidth-heavy trends like mobility, virtualization, bring-your-own device policies and pervasive video are straining corporate networks, as most admins can tell you. But are they prepared for nearly half of enterprise networks to become obsolete by 2016?

That's the warning coming from Dimension Data's Network Barometer 2012 report, which conducted 294 technology lifecycle management assessments. It found that 45% of networks will be obsolete within five years, a 38% increase from the results in 2010.

"What unfolded as we looked at the data are that trends like virtualization, video and bring your own device ... are rapidly consuming the resources of the network," says Larry Van Deusen, national practice manager for network integration at Dimension Data Americas. "It's a continuous trend that has significantly ramped up."

The report also found that companies are taking risks by pushing technology assets to their limits, since two-thirds of all devices assessed by Dimension Data in 2011 had at least one known security vulnerability, says Van Deusen. Four of the 10 most prevalent security vulnerabilities were new, according to the findings, while three earned a "high severity" rating and one a "critical" rating. Van Deusen says the findings underscore how important it is for organizations to ensure that their patch-management processes are comprehensive and that they screen for security vulnerabilities regularly.

"Maybe they have a policy in place, but they haven't actively gone back and evaluated whether they're running the right level of support" when a device is replaced or repaired, says Van Deusen.

The most significant finding was the trend toward mobility, he says. "Our prediction is that 802.11 penetration will be greater than 50% next year. As we continue this evolution and client consumerization is putting more pressure on moving from wired to wireless, we're seeing a more rapid move from 802.11b/g/a networks to new standard, 802.11n networks, which were existing Wi-Fi networks that didn't support video and high-bandwidth trends that is the requirement now,'' he says. "As IT organizations are consuming more [bandwidth] quickly, they need to support the continued trend toward 802.11n standard."

The 2012 Network Barometer report also found that from a lifecycle perspective, the total number of devices past end-of-sale jumped from 38% to 45%. According to Dimensions Data, this highlights the fact that organizations can't forget the network when deploying new communication services.

The report also indicates that while the percentage of devices with security vulnerabilities stayed roughly the same (73% last year vs. 75% 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.

"There's a perception that if it's working and functional we don't need to do anything with it, so there's adversity of risk there," says Van Deusen. "Then there's the manufacturer who has to move through the lifecycle and say, 'We got to get our new and more efficient products out there that take advantage of new technologies.' Clients are at crossroads where they have to adapt or move to new products." He says that while organizations should know to expect this, since all products are subject to a lifecycle, "based on cost and market dynamics and doing more with less and reducing costs, clients are waiting until as long as they can. So this is a compelling event."