Organisations are failing to upgrade their networks as the number of ageing and obsolete devices connected to them reaches its highest level in six years.
About 51% of network devices are now ageing or obsolete, of which 27% are now in the 'later' stage of their product lifecycle, when the vendor begins to reduce support for the device.
Much of the increase was blamed on software-defined networking, which may be causing organisations to 'wait and see' before selecting and implementing new technology.
Organisations are also saving on costs thanks to global economic crisis and using ICT consumption models, which reduce the need for organisations to invest in their own IT infrastructure.
"Organisations have been far more economical in their approach, and more willing to risk getting by with ageing equipment for the sake of 'running lean', sometimes avoiding capex at all costs," said data published by Dimension Data.
Interestingly, the research found that obsolete devices were 25% less likely to fail than devices that were current, and, on average, it took one hour less to resolve issues on obsolete devices than on current devices.
"Our conclusion is that a refreshed network places a heavier burden on an organisation's support services infrastructure than an ageing network does. Based on the rate of technology failures and resolution time, and the added benefit of reduced capex, the decision to sweat network assets is sound," the research said.
Raoul Tecala, Dimension Data's business development director for networking, added: "What we've seen over the last 12 months is a continued growth - approximately 30% - in wireless business. But we are now also seeing an upgrade in the access switching infrastructure to support wireless connectivity.
"For example, the percentage of gigabit access switch ports increased from one-third of all ports last year to just under half (45%) this year. Also, the percentage of switches that support 10 gigabit uplinks increased from 11% to 23%. And there was a much smaller increase in the percentage of ports that support power-over-Ethernet: from just under half last year to just over half this year."
Tecala said: "So, while networks are generally getting older as organisations tend to sweat their network assets for as long as possible to save costs, organisations are upgrading their networks when the need for specific new features becomes more pressing."
Dimension Data's Network Barometer Report was compiled from technology data gathered from 288 technology assessments covering 74,000 technology devices in organisations of all sizes and all industry sectors across 32 countries.