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Make sure your customers' networks are up to the mobile challenge

There’s an interesting but not-so-surprising survey out from IT services giant Dimension Data this week suggesting that many companies are overlooking the need to upgrade their corporate networks in their rush to accommodate mobile devices.

The research, which examined the habits of 300 organizations, found that while many companies are upgrading the wireless technologies at the edge of the network, fewer of them are looking downstream to ensure that the backbone of their networks can support all that extra traffic.

Dimension Data’s report, the 2012 Network Barometer, found that one-third of the wireless access points installed in 2011 were 802.11n-capable. That has implications for speed, traffic and network prioritization.

In addition, the solution provider found that about two-thirds of the devices that it assessed during its study had at least one known security vulnerability. Generally speaking, these vulnerabilities were new (that is, they indicated that the companies weren’t keeping their network operating systems up-to-date.

Dimension Data’s overall suggestion is that companies need to spend more time examining the switches and routing equipment supporting an influx of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.

“Without adequate planning, organizations can expect traffic jams and performance bottlenecks,” said Raoul Tecala, Dimension Data’s business development director for network integration, commenting on the findings. “It’s like building a number of new on-ramps onto a motorway, and not adding new lanes to carry the additional traffic.”

The takeaway for other technology solution providers is that they need to more carefully assess the network infrastructure supporting their customers’ mobile solutions rollouts — with an eye to accommodating the extra traffic and ensuring that security breaches aren’t introduced for the sake of productivity.

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