A key finding in the Network Barometer Report 2010 released yesterday reveals a 35% improvement in the number of devices on networks found to be running security vulnerabilities. However, this figure – down from 73% in 2009 to 38% this year – still represents significant risk to organisation networks.

The 2010 Report covers data from Technology Lifecycle Management (TLM) Assessments carried out in organisations of all sizes and industry sectors across five continents, and points to issues of concern for network optimisation.
In addition, data in the 2010 report also reveals an average of 40,7 configuration violations per network device which translated, is a potential 40 chances for downtime to occur on a device due to either a security attack or human error. These configuration errors could have a significant impact on business productivity resulting in downtime, and exposing networks to potential risk.
According to the 2010 report, networks continue to run with security, configuration and end-of-life vulnerabilities which will impact overall business efficiency. The evolution of the Internet, particularly in the cloud computing space, suggests that organisations can evolve their IT infrastructure to benefit from these developments. This means cheaper applications, with less need for storage and complicated support structures. However, this is dependent on the strength of an organisation’s network to provide an adequate platform.
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. Armed with this information, organisations are able to make informed decisions about their network needs for alignment with developments in cloud computing.
“No two networks are the same, yet networks are the backbone of an organisation. Optimised networks ensure smooth business function, connectivity and provide a strong platform for taking advantage of cloud computing.  While the cloud is an exciting development in the IT industry, organisations with less efficient networks – and subsequent lags on cloud – will experience lags on the business bottom line,” explains Jeff Jack, Dimension Data’s GM for network integration.
Furthermore, the 2010 Report revealed that 35% of all network devices have entered the obsolescence phase. Compared with data in the 2009 Network Barometer Report, this reflects an improvement from 43%. Yet this figure reflects only a modicum of effort from organisations to reduce levels of obsolescence.
According to Jack: “Effective network planning for lifecycle milestones is essential to ease the move towards virtualisation. Any part of a network that’s virtualised equals a potential issue in terms of application flow. In addition, the efficiency that the cloud will bring will place greater stress on data and storage networks. Networks must be well-managed, planned and run at optimum levels in order to provide the return on investment that virtualisation offers.
“Organisations can choose to transact either wholly or partially on the cloud. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. But network integration is key to effective process, particularly with multi-vendor, multi-network and multi-layered management,” he explains and points out that part of the challenge for network and IT professionals is the vast difference between an organisation’s network needs, its size, applications, and set-up.
“Likewise, the cloud environment requires automated network processes to provision for these virtual resources. In particular, tools that handle configuration management, resource allocation and IP address management need to be adopted. Networks will need to provide reliable connectivity, and handle low latency and high security variables.”
Jack believes adequate network and IT infrastructure planning and preparation will go a long way to help overcome these challenges to ensure smoother process when running applications on the cloud.
The 2010 Report also addresses the fact that vulnerabilities are generally known but not effectively addressed, and that organisations need to align to published best practice standards to minimise risk. In addition, more planning discipline is required in network asset management.