How to choose the right managed network provider
June 14th, 2012
Managed networks have been around for many years, but this week was the first time I’ve heard someone refer to them as ‘network-as-a-service’. I’m not keen on this label it’s obviously just one of the plethora of IT terms that have had ‘as-a-service’ tagged onto the end of it. This is another clear example of how IT doesn’t change as much as most believe – it’s often just packaged differently.
8 things to consider with a managed network
I was asked what business leaders and IT professionals should be aware of when looking at choosing a managed network provider. Based on my experience of dealing with numerous providers and partners over the years, here are a few of the key points that I raised, beyond the usual tech ones:
1. Check out the basics
Ensure the managed network provider has robust financials and has been established for at least five years.
2. What if they disappear?
If you are using a third-party reseller or VNO (Virtual Network Operator), what happens to your service if they go into administration? Check that you are protected through relevant agreements with the end supplier, and also be aware of what happens to any onsite equipment if your contracted reseller goes under.
3. Check the Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
Do they really mean anything? A four hour SLA with no meaningful penalties or reimbursements is meaningless. You should also ensure that you have guarantees on the network latency – the speed of the connection is becoming more and more important, especially with the rise of cloud services.
4. Check the backup lines
Many managed network companies will deliver a backup service, i.e. an ADSL backup to a more expensive leased circuit. Check it’s not on the same infrastructure as the main service; ensure it’s diverse.
5. Check the equipment
What hardware will the provider be sending out to carry your service? Is it a mainstream vendor, such as Cisco? Or is it a vendor that you’ve never heard of? Make sure it’s quality equipment – always pay that little extra for quality.
6. What about the Network Operations Centre (NOC)?
Does the provider have their own NOC, or is it outsourced? If it’s outsourced, ask for details on that company – at the end of the day, it will be the outsourcing company running your network.
7. Who will manage the account?
Yes, the person who sold you the service was lovely, but will you ever hear from them again once you are signed up? Be sure that you know who will manage your account after you become a customer.
8. Know the escalation route
If things go wrong and you aren’t getting the service you need, who do you speak to? If that person doesn’t deal with it, who do you then go to? Ensure you have a clear escalation path as it can be difficult to get people to take responsibility: at the end of the day, that engineer or account manager may speak to another 200 customers that week.
Of course, you also need to make sure the technology is right. However, I would say that the above are just as important – and in some ways more so. The tech is generally straightforward, but getting the right level of service from your managed network provider usually isn’t.
12 ways to get more out of your cloud computing spend
How to reduce cloud computing spend Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities for recovering spend quickly and effectively – largely around better cloud management and resource allocation. Of course, any cost-cutting measures need to be performed in a controlled way to ensure the integrity, performance and security of the cloud platform is not compromised. 1. […]
How cloud can strengthen business continuity
Cloud Computing, and indeed the whole concept of ‘Software-as-a-Service’, is continuing to grow in popularity. Already, these new web-based models of software distribution are completely transforming the way in which companies access and store their business-critical applications and data. With traditional ‘off-the-shelf’ software packages, an application is normally installed on the company’s main server, and […]
Blistering IOPS at a sensible price
Storage has come on leaps and bounds over the last few years, especially now with ‘all flash arrays’, virtualised storage and software-defined storage solutions being pushed. This is all fuelled by the demand for more input/output operations per second (IOPs), scalability, service automation and increasing capacity. The All-Flash Array ‘All flash arrays’ are great ways […]