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Network Barometer Report reveals alarming stats

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Key findings in the Network Barometer Report 2010 reveal an alarming statistic which could have significant risk consequences for organisations. An average of 40.7 configuration violations per network device were found when Dimension Data carried out Technology Lifecycle Management (TLM) Assessments in organisations of all sizes and industry sectors across five continents. This translates to 40 chances for downtime to occur on a device due to either a security attack or human error.

In 2008, Dimension Data developed the Technology Lifecycle Management (TLM) Assessment ‚ a service that provides organisations with the compass they need to navigate and chart the IT assets on their networks, enabling fundamental security, configuration and end-of-life network device issues to be proactively addressed. This year the three key themes in the Network Barometer Report include: 1) vulnerabilities are generally known but not effectively addressed: 2) organisations need to align to published best practice standards to minimise risk: and 3) more planning discipline is required in network asset management.

According to the 2010 Report, networks continue to run with security, configuration and end-of-life issues that could affect overall business productivity and efficiency. Over 38% of all devices on networks are running security vulnerabilities. With an efficient network fast becoming an integral part of effective business, the Report reveals the gap between intention and good practice when it comes to network planning and maintenance.

Compared to the statistics of the 2009 Network Barometer Report, there has been an overall improvement in the number of devices running security vulnerabilities. This figure has almost halved from 73% to 38%. This substantial drop can be attributed to a reduction the number of new security vulnerabilities identified annually, as well as how organisations are responding to network recommendations to manage their risk profile.

‚Developments in IT networks have come a long way, but unlike the maturing of operational disciplines we’ve seen in other business areas, the regular review and configuration of networks by organisations has not reached the same level of rigour. Yet an organisation’s network is a critical production asset,‚ explains Jeff Jack, Dimension Data’s GM for Network Integration.

According to Jack, configuration errors can have a significant impact on business productivity resulting in downtime. Furthermore, 35% of all network devices have entered the obsolescence phase. Compared with the data in the 2009 Report, it is a slight improvement of 8% from 43%. However, this is insignificant and reflects only a modicum of effort by organisations to reduce the level of obsolescence.

Jack says identifying lifecycle milestones is essential to determine the age and viability of the devices on the network. ‚In particular, last-day-of-support (LDoS) and end-of-software-maintenance (EoSWM) devices that are no longer supported by the manufacturer place a company at risk.‚

Patching devices beyond end-of-software-maintenance is sometimes not an option, as new bugs are not patched by the manufacturer. However, given the current economic climate, organisations have elected to sweat assets beyond end-of-life (EoL).

‚Organisations must have a process in place which alerts the IT department when devices are near each lifecycle milestone. This provides network planners with a significant operational and budget advantage,‚ he adds.

Meanwhile, the Network Barometer Report 2010 highlights some positive findings.

‚In the past year alone, we’ve seen an uptake in the number of organisations wanting detailed assessments of their networks. This indicates that organisations are starting to adopt a philosophy towards network optimisation. The reality is that organisations must pay more attention to their networks and adopt network planning as a tool for greater productivity,‚ Jack concludes.

For more information about Dimension Data, and to download the free Network Barometer Report 2010, visit www.dimensiondata.com/networkbarometer

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