Dimension Data, the $4.5 billion specialist IT solutions and Services Company, has announced the release of its next generation technology lifecycle assessment service. The move comes off the back of strong demand by global organisations and is driven by requirements gathered in executing over 300 assessments across five continents.
“Dimension Data is happy to introduce Technology Lifecycle Management Assessment (TLM Assessment) to our clients in the Middle East,” says Nader Atout, Sales Director – Gulf Region at Dimension Data. “This service enables organisations to expand their network asset planning activities beyond a single manufacturer. It also provides the foundation for expanding asset planning beyond network assets to include server platforms and storage devices among others. TLM Assessment also includes the ability to identify serial information and to provide clients with maintenance coverage information thereby ensuring that they are neither over- nor under covered.”
Rich Schofield, Global Business Development Manager, Network Integration at Dimension Data says interest in the new TLM Assessment has been extremely positive. “The TLM Assessment has evolved, thanks to what we learned from literally hundreds of assessments we executed in the last 18 months.
“The data we gathered was built back into the service. We added new features, increased automation, and reduced report delivery time. These, combined with improving the readability and general usefulness of assessment reporting, make it more cost effective and much easier for clients to remove risk, waste, and uncertainty from their IT infrastructure,” Schofield explains, and adds that new statistics and trends from the over 300 assessments executed to date will be released early next year in the 2010 edition of the Dimension Data Network Barometer Report.
“Of the first 150 assessments executed in 2008, 73% of networking devices were running with known security vulnerabilities. This exposes a business to both external and internal security attacks and breaches, and could seriously jeopardise an organisation’s ability to meet regulatory compliance.
“The ramifications for IT infrastructures are huge. More importantly, however, this statistic highlights the fact that organisations could be protecting their networks better but either don’t know they need to, or don’t have the processes in place to do so.”
Dimension Data also found that there was an average of 30 configuration issues per network device. The financial services sector - with an average of 36 - has the highest average number of configuration errors per device.
“The concern here is compliance,” Schofield says. “That, along with the fact that the most frequently misconfigured category is authentication, holds all sorts of implications for organisations. This amounts to the equivalent of leaving your front door unlocked even though the door has a perfectly functional deadbolt,” he explains.
Almost half of all network devices were found to have entered the obsolescence cycle, putting them at risk of extended downtime and unplanned for, forced expenditure to regain business continuity.
“The great irony is that every one of these problems is avoidable through appropriate life cycle management that allows companies to maximise the useful life of its network assets with a rational approach that minimises risk. Organisations that don’t get the help that’s available now could find they’re being held hostage by their networks in the near future."
The price tag for downtime is significant and growing as businesses enable more operational processes with IT. Schofield explains: “Some industry analysts calculate that system downtime can cost as much as $42,000 per hour of downtime in a large corporate – with a typical business experiencing around 87 hours downtime a year - and up to 3.6% of an organisation’s annual revenue.”
According to Schofield there’s not been much help available until now, because of the rapid and haphazard way in which IT has evolved – with the Internet in particular triggering a scramble for e-enablement that left no time to develop technology lifecycle management best practice.
“However, both the IT industry and its customers are maturing. They’re also realising that their organisations and, therefore their networks, are going to come under even more pressure as Web 2.0, software as a service (SaaS), video, voice, and mobility applications become dominant.
“There’s also the drive to save costs through initiatives such as virtualisation and standards-based IT service management, pervasive connectivity, convergence, and standardisation on IP - all of which have impacts on the network. In other words, they’re realising that to sensibly manage all the options, is to execute regular assessments via an automated service that is constantly evolving and maturing along with the technologies themselves.”
Schofield believes that technology lifecycle management assessment methodologies should be improved continuously. That’s because the networks they assess are constantly changing.
“It’s vital to keep ploughing experience of network management back into a TLM Assessment service – just as it is vital for clients to continue adjusting their understanding of their network assets.”
About Dimension Data
Dimension Data plc (LSE:DDT), a specialist IT services and solution provider, helps clients plan, build, support and manage their IT infrastructures. Dimension Data applies its expertise in networking, converged communications, security, data centre and storage, Microsoft and contact centre technologies, and its unique skills in consulting, integration and managed services to create customised client solutions.
About Dimension Data’s TLM Assessment
Dimension Data‘s TLM Assessment comprises six steps:
IDENTIFY: this involves a business discussion about the network’s technology lifecycle, and the organisation’s existing and best fit longer-term network architecture, considering risk, cost and strategic factors.
DISCOVER: this incorporates business and technical reviews with the key stakeholders to ensure that the relevant information is collected and lifecycle milestones as well as security and configuration issues are identified. An asset list is required at this stage and if the organisation does not have an up to date list, a network scan will be required to create one.
ASSESS: using automated tools, the asset list is analysed against security, configuration, and end-of-life databases. A technology roadmap is created, based on the prioritised recommendations from the analysis. This includes configuration remediations as well as security and maintenance recommendations.
RECOMMEND: this is a consultative step in which Dimension Data specialists and key stakeholders discuss the findings so far and determine how to act on recommendations based on risk, cost and strategic factors. An action plan is developed.
EXECUTE: IT operations execute the recommendations. These may include:
allocating resources or working with a third party to address the security and network remediations that are required, reviewing maintenance and support contracts, and/or planning for equipment upgrades. As this is a multi-year planning approach, there are likely to be steps executed in future financial periods as the organisation’s needs dictate.
IMPROVE: Networks and markets are dynamic. Configurations will drift from best practice standards over time and additional products deployed will enter the end of lifecycle. In order to ensure the benefits of this approach over time, repeat assessments should be considered.