Managed network services are quickly becoming a viable alternative to traditional management of MPLS networks. With managed network services, you essentially out-task some or all of your network services to another company who takes over the agreed upon tasks. Some of the more common tasks that lend themselves to out-tasking include: intranet and Internet hosting, data storage, business continuity and disaster recovery, managed VPN, managed business voice, and managed security.
Advantages of Managed Network Services
By moving to managed services, you can reduce overall network costs dramatically. For example, by moving to network services from a MPLS, frame relay, or DSL VPN, you could see cost reductions of 17 to 65 percent according to research by META Group.
Managed services are ideal for small companies that lack sufficient IT resources as well as enterprise organizations. If you do not have an full-time IT staff, staffing issues that adversely affect your network operations can disappear once you switch to a managed service provider. If you currently have an IT department, your IT team can focus on more crucial network issues instead of routine tasks.
While personnel costs advantages can be substantial, out-tasking to a network services provider can also result in savings in other areas including equipment costs, training costs, and recruitment costs.
Disadvantages of Managed Network Services
As with any major change, it’s important to go in with your eyes wide open to the potential pitfalls of out-tasking network services to a third party. A one-size-fits-all approach to managed services simply doesn’t, and shouldn’t, exist. As such, any provider you are considering must take the time to carefully examine your business requirements and propose a solution that addresses all of your concerns. Make sure to discuss: guaranteed uptime, availability, maintenance, reliability, and security. Most providers will draw up a service level agreement which defines Quality of Service and other parameters. Make sure that the managed services proposed align with and support your business goals.
Some managers are concerned about losing control over business operations when they out-task services such as network management. Fortunately, managed services are not an all or nothing choice. You can select the services that best meet your needs and comfort level. For example, if you want your in-house IT staff to handle some services and the managed services provider to handle others, you can easily arrange for that.
Another concern involves network security. You may wonder how safe your data is in the hands of a third party. If you are subject to consumer privacy regulations such as HIPAA, your concerns aren’t just nagging worries, they’re the law and you have every reason to expect exceptional security from your provider. Because network security is crucial and often mandated, many organizations actively seek managed services providers with security and compliance expertise.
Switching to managed services has its advantages and concerns. Reputable service providers understand your concerns and work closely with you to craft a solution that solves your business challenges, save your company money, and ease your mind.