Enterprise mobility to change network structure

Disruptive technology trends such as enterprise mobility, cloud computing and ICT outsourcing are changing the way organisations deliver and consume ICT services. Consequently, the architecture of the communications network as we know it will need to undergo a facelift to accommodate these changes. And while it will be a necessary and radical adjustment, it won’t happen overnight.

This is one of the trends highlighted in the 2013 Network Barometer Report, released by Dimension Data. First published in 2009, the report draws on data from Dimension Data’s proprietary Technology Lifecycle Management (TLM) Assessment completed for over 1,200 organisations of all sizes from all industry sectors, and across all geographies over the past five years.  


“Last year, we predicted rapid network architecture adjustment in support of growing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and enterprise mobility demands. Dimension Data still holds the view that enterprise mobility will dramatically change the structure of networks,” says Michael Abendanon, Dimension Data South Africa General Manager for Network Integration.

“Most campus networks consist of approximately 80% wired ports serving individual users, and 20% wireless LAN (WLAN) ports supporting multiple users. However, today, users don’t want to be tethered to their desks and, as a result, are putting pressure on organisations to facilitate enterprise mobility. In addition to this pressure from end-users, networks that are 80% wireless will cost far less to roll out than traditional, predominantly wired networks. The good news is they will also create a strong foundation for lower operational costs because they’ll be easier to manage, provide unified access, and require less power and cooling. We predict the combination of these factors will eventually turn the 80:20 ratio on its head so that future networks will be 80% wireless and 20% wired,” he says.

Abendanon points out that, from an architectural perspective, networks of the future won’t be able to function optimally if most of its wired ports – perhaps every port – can’t support power-over-Ethernet and handle gigabit Ethernet.

“According to our data, only one-third of all access switches support power-over-Ethernet, while a little under half support gigabit Ethernet. The 80:20 to 20:80 flip will also impact on the uplink environment. Since fewer access switches will serve end users, more bandwidth will be required from the access switch into the core network. Today, the great majority of access switches have one-gigabit uplinks into the core, while only 13% of the access switches we counted support ten-gigabit uplinks. This is another factor that will compel clients to accelerate the refresh of their networks’ access layer. And this is where today’s networks appear to be slow on the uptake,” he says. 

“We’re seeing organisations refreshing their networks sooner than in the past, but they don’t seem to be doing so uniformly across the network architecture. Combined with the lag in refresh we see in the access layer, the networks of today are not yet prepared to become the networks of tomorrow,” Abendanon adds.

Other key findings of the 2013 Network Barometer Report include:


  • For the third year in a row, the percentage of devices past end-of-sale (EoS) has increased to the highest levels since 2009 when Dimension Data published the first Network Barometer Report. Organisations are also ‘selectively sweating’ more of these devices to reach riskier, ‘older’ lifecycle stages.
  • For the third year in a row, the most common PSIRT was 109444 (an identified software vulnerability). It was present in 66% of all devices in 2010, dropped to 47% in 2011, and rose again to 62% in 2012.


Click here to read the 2013 Network Barometer Report Executive Summary.

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