THE KNOWLEDGE NETWORK Key Findings T he mean average spent annually on data center network infrastructure is £161,000 in the UK, with a further £86,000 spent on WAN and interconnects. In Germany, companies are spending an average of €326,000 annually on data center network infrastructure and €140,000 on WAN and other interconnects. infrastructure for a little longer often seems like the easiest and most cost-efficient option.” Mervyn adds: “Additionally, there is often a disparity in perceived quality of different elements in the service chain leading to a misunderstanding that upgrades in one area will lead to overall end to end benefits. Hardware like laptops or desktop computers break over time and show signs of wear and tear. Network assets, on the other hand, are generally quite reliable, making it easier to overlook the need to upgrade network infrastructure when everything is running smoothly. So, there is no sense of urgency as nothing is broken and needs to be fixed.” NCN also wanted to know what the main points service providers and integrators offering WAN and interconnects should take away from the findings? Mervyn argues, “If there’s one key take away from this research, it is that a two-tier strategy for technology renewal cycles will always result in missed opportunities. New client and server hardware unlocks many benefits for users and the wider business. It makes little sense to curtail these by using obsolete network infrastructure that becomes a bottleneck for new IT investments instead of an enabler.” So with the advances in Wi-Fi technology, faster Ethernet protocols and support for new broadband and fibre standards, what specific advantages are available? 16 | October 2017 ‘One-fifth of UK businesses are missing out on the operational and cost benefits of new network technologies.’ Mervyn explains, “A good example here is the hardware people use in an office environment. Companies often like to invest in the newest and shiniest hardware, with the best possible specs including high resolution displays, advanced Wi-Fi protocols and Bluetooth connectivity. However, without upgrading the network that these devices are connected to, companies will get into a situation where most of these capabilities actually don’t work to their full extent. “If a new laptop supports the latest 802.11ac Wi-Fi protocol, but the network only operates off the much older 802.11g protocol, then the efficiencies of the new protocol are lost. The same goes for much larger networks. If an organisation invests in hardware that supports a 10G Ethernet network, but the actual Ethernet connection is made up of 1G copper cables, the ‘new’ network de facto remains an old 1G network.” More information: CIENA ciena.com ore than one-quarter M (27%) of UK businesses are also using WAN connections up to five years old, potentially missing out on service improvements and new services. This compares with just 18% in Germany. ot h UK a n d G e r man B o rga n i sat i o n s i d e nti f i ed t h e l ate st f i b re d ata c e nte r i nte rco n n ects a s t h e m o st c r i t i cal i nve st m e nt t h e y would ma ke , i f m o n e y was n o o b j e ct . Acco rd i n g to the st u d y , ro u g h l y 40 % of U K re sp o n d e nt s wo u ld i nves t i n t h i s a l o n g w i t h 42 .8 % i n G e r ma n y . ver one-fifth (22%) in O the UK would invest in site-to-site fiber in order to improve internal data speeds between sites, compared to 11% of German organisations. rom a market sector F standpoint, the study concluded that the services sector is the most likely to invest in data center infrastructure, with 94% having invested in key data center network hardware (fibre, cabling, switches, routers, firewalls etc.) in the last three years. This compares to 92% in the healthcare sector, 89% in the financial services sector and 87% in the retail sector. In addition, roughly 50% of healthcare respondents had done this investment within the last year.