The Internet of Things and software-defined networking (SDN) are two of the driving forces behind a sharp uplift in network upgrades, according to a Dimension Data executive. 

Dimension Data's recently released 2016 Network Barometer Report found that for the first time since 2010, there has been an increase in the use of current-generation network equipment.

According to the report, 58 percent of global networks now use current gear, an increase of 11 percentage points compared to last year’s report. There was an equivalent decrease in networks using 'ageing' devices over the year, but no change (9 percent) in the use of 'obsolete' gear.

Paul O’Donohoe, general manager of Dimension Data Australia’s networks business unit, told IoT Hub that IoT and SDN are two of the reasons for this shift to newer networking devices.

“We’re moving towards a world where there will be a vastly increased number of connected devices, and a strong push to bring the operating technology (OT) environment into the IT environment to create that IoT experience,” he said.

“The other thing of interest there is around SDN, whether that be software-defined WAN or SDN in the data centre.”

He was quick to point out that although IoT and SDN were major contributing factors globally, their influence on network upgrades here in Australia was less pronounced.

“Here in Australia, I’m seeing a lot of people investigate SDN, but there are few large-scale implementations,” he explained.

“Dimension Data has built a few proof-of-concept environments for customers, but there’s less uptake of SDN than what I’ve seen overseas.”

O’Donohoe likens the hype around IoT and SDN now to the hype surrounding cloud technologies five years ago.

“C-level executives are picking up magazines and reading about IoT and SDN and saying ‘Wow, we really need to be across this’,” he said.

“It’s causing massive disruptions to markets and new business models are emerging, but many companies don’t necessarily know what it all means in terms of what they can expect or adopt.”

Wi-Fi still a big influence on local network infrastructure

O’Donohoe said that the push towards updated networks in Australia is primarily due to the growing importance of Wi-Fi, which he said is helping them in three ways.

“First, they’re trying to achieve a differentiated user experience, whether that’s internal with their own staff, or external, in terms of their customers,” he explained.

“Second, they’re looking into their back room and trying to drive a different level of business operations in terms of efficiency and effectiveness.

“Third, they’re examining their business models and changing them to bring agility to digitisation, allowing them to respond quickly to disruptors in the market or to become a disruptor themselves.”

O’Donohoe said that the strength of Wi-Fi comes in its ability to “easily and very quickly change the staff and customer experience, improve mobility, and provide access to data in context where you want, when you want, and in the format you want.”