More than half of devices on corporate networks are either ageing or obsolete - the highest percentage in six years.
That's according to Dimension Data's annual Network Barometer Report 2014 released today.
The 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.
The report found the percentage of ageing and obsolete devices in today's corporate networks around the globe is at its highest in six years.
This may signal that the global financial crisis of recent years is still having a lingering effect.
More than 51 per cent of all devices assessed are now ageing or obsolete.
In addition, 27 per cent of all devices are now 'later' in their product lifecycles and at the point where the vendor begins to reduce support. Dimension Data's national manager for networking, Gregg Sultana, said the last few years had seen the proportion of ageing and obsolete devices steadily increase, and the conventional assumption was that a technology refresh cycle was imminent.
"However, our data reveals that organisations are sweating their network assets for longer than expected." Sultana said there are three main drivers behind this trend.
Firstly, following the economic crisis, organisations were keeping a sustained focus on cost savings -- particularly reduced capex budgets.
Secondly, a growing availability and uptake of as-a-service ICT consumption models which reduce the need for organisations to invest in their own infrastructure.
Lastly, the advent of programmable, software-defined networks may be causing organisations to 'wait and see' before selecting and implementing new technology -- a factor we expect will become more influential in the next 18 to 36 months. Sultana expects growth in Cloud computing, mobility and the number of connected 'things' would put additional strain on the network and that clients would have to "re-look" at their network architecture, not the individual devices.
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. Network spend is often linked to regional economic conditions: it slows down during sluggish periods and accelerates during times of growth," Sultana said. "Last year, Australia and MEA showed higher percentages (over 50 per cent) of ageing and obsolete devices compared to the Americas (37 per cent), Europe (41 per cent) and Asia Pacific (44 per cent).
This trend mirrors the slowdown in MEA and Australia economies.
Meanwhile the economic slump in Asia Pacific has inflated the region's percentage of ageing devices, according to Sultana.
"The Americas continued its steady growth, which resulted in a higher percentage of ageing devices, although not quite as high as in other regions," he said. Three verticals showed large increases: financial services (13 per cent); government, healthcare, and education (11 per cent); and service providers and telecommunications (33 per cent).
Sultana said he was seeing organisations becoming more economical in their approach, and more willing to risk getting by with ageing equipment for the sake of running lean. "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," Sultana said.
He believes that problem and change management are particularly important. "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."