This article originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.
Cloud services, mobility, security – these trends pose some of the most significant challenges facing IT departments today. For enterprises looking to effectively and efficiently navigate this complex and changing landscape, turning to a managed services provider may very well be a strategic choice.
A MSP manages network-based services, equipment and applications on a customer’s premises, or, in its own facility, with service delivery over the company WAN and LAN. Service-level agreements are established to meet the company’s unique requirements and offer specific guidelines that the MSP must meet to provide transparency and ensure that the company is receiving the service that has been agreed upon.
Making the move to managed services – whether network services, hosting and storage, or security services – is not a new proposition for today’s enterprise. However, with the advent of new technologies, the rapid increase in volume and sophistication of big data and applications, as well as shifting enterprise IT business models from capex to opex-based scenarios, there is more urgency to take these non-core tasks outside the enterprise. Managed services free a company’s IT department from maintaining and managing infrastructure on a 24/7 basis, and regularly investing in new equipment, training and support personnel. The benefits carry throughout the value chain and are circular in nature: With an IT staff better able to focus on more strategic tasks, customers can avail themselves of more innovative services and experience less downtime, which results in higher loyalty and profits for the company.
With forces such as cloud computing beginning to cause disruption in some managed services such as traditional managed hosting and storage, enterprises need to examine their managed services investment strategies and determine which provider can best serve their requirements now, and in the future.
In short, their MSP should have the capabilities to be a long-term partner – not merely a provider.
This partnership is particularly imperative in a managed network services relationship, as the network continues to become a focal point for IT, due, at least in part, to the rapid proliferation of applications and the network’s key role in application delivery. Enterprises are fighting a difficult battle – overtaxed bandwidth, managing diverse networks, and the costs and time that their in-house teams have to devote to these tasks. Efficient, high-quality delivery of geographically dispersed, latency-sensitive applications, such as bandwidth-heavy video conferencing, continues to be a significant challenge.
Managed network services can provide enterprises with a host of invaluable benefits. Most obvious are the cost savings, resource efficiencies and consistent performance that management of both their WAN and LAN can deliver. But perhaps the most critical differentiator the right partner can provide is guaranteed, high-quality application delivery.
Faced with an increasingly global supply chain, and diversity in latency requirements across application types, choosing a managed network services partner who can meet these needs is key. The right partner should employ specific strategies that include locating applications as close as possible to the end user to minimize latency and applying consistent QoS to priority and real-time applications, in addition to providing an application-based service level agreement – not merely a network-based one.
Edited by Braden Becker