When it comes to technology, approaches to its purchase vary pretty much from one business to another. Some businesses buy the very best and ride it into the ground, switching material out only after it breaks and dealing with obsolescence as it comes. Others buy only what they need and regularly update it. But when it comes to network technology such as core routers and VoIP switches, the prevailing mood seems to be one of frugality's greatest maxims: "use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without."
According to a recent survey from TheInfoPro in which 155 networking professionals participated in, network technology is essentially in "catch-up mode" to the rest of its hardware brethren. With new network initiatives coming out all the time in addition to strategies like bring your own device, IT professionals are hard pressed to give users what they demand while still powering device technology that is better suited to meet their individual needs.
While networking budget growth is doing pretty well overall, there is some slowing down in growth being noticed, likely due to the overall poor economy. For instance, between 2010 and 2011, respondents to the TheInfoPro survey said that they were getting budget expansions. Between 2011 and 2012, that number dropped to just 38 percent, while 23 percent reported that budgets were on the decline. Those numbers would be bad enough, except they represent both operational expenses and capital expenses and operational expenses account for roughly 64 percent of budgets.
With nearly two thirds of the budget is going to just keeping the “lights on”, it's easy to see where room for things like new hardware falls by the wayside in a bid to just keep the network's head above water. But at the same time, the importance of a VoIP switch upgrade and a core routing upgrade are too vital to miss completely, which is why it tops the list for nearly 29 percent of the survey's respondents. Meanwhile, other big plans include wireless rollouts for 14 percent, a general technology refresh for 13 percent and VoIP for 12 percent.
Considering the rapid advance of networking technology, the thought of trying to stage some of these advances on aging hardware is a disturbing thought indeed. The hardware needs to be sufficiently robust to handle these advancements, especially considering the kind of security necessary to make them fully effective. Cheeping out on the hardware is a bad move in general, so it's good to hear that technology refreshes and core upgrades are front of mind in many shops. Hopefully, this will continue,and the networking hardware will prove a match for the software.
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