The shortage of experienced tech workers combined with the current economic climate is leading many CIOs and IT managers to look to managed services to cut costs. Network management, especially, requires highly-skilled professionals in order to keep the network running smoothly and prevent security breaches.
- What Is Managed Networking?
- How Managed Networking Cuts Costs
- Other Benefits of Managed Networking
- What to Look for in a Managed Networking SLA
- Is Managed Networking Right for Your Business?
What Is Managed Networking?
Managed networking is the process by which an organization outsources the monitoring and maintenance of its cloud environment or on-premises infrastructure to a managed services provider (MSP). MSPs can manage wide area network (WAN) and local area network (LAN) connections, firewalls, basic network access, and virtual machines. Managed networking can typically help businesses cut costs more than traditional networking can. They can also fill in gaps in support when a company lacks 24-7 coverage.
Top Managed Networking MSPs
How Managed Networking Cuts Costs
Managed networking can help companies cut costs in a few areas thanks to the burden it removes from the organization.
With managed networking services, organizations can often rely on their MSP to provide the software they’ll need for monitoring and maintenance. And even if they do need to purchase their own software, they may be able to do so through their MSP at a discount. Additionally, cloud technology is typically cheaper than on-premises software, and managed networking makes it easier for businesses to migrate operations to the cloud.
Learn how MSPs Are Turning Software Into New Services.
Many small businesses don’t have a networking expert on their in-house IT team, and skilled IT professionals are currently very expensive to hire and difficult to find. MSPs help these organizations fill the gaps in their IT staff and handle mission-critical processes at a lower cost than they could hire someone in-house.
With managed networking, organizations get help from experienced networking professionals, allowing them to optimize their networks and identify vulnerabilities before they can be exploited. Because data breaches can be so expensive, preventing them in the first place can save organizations thousands of dollars in the long run. Patch management alone is beyond the ability of most companies. Additionally, networking MSPs can provide regular maintenance, limiting the number of repairs and the amount of downtime that organizations have to deal with.
Other Benefits of Managed Networking
Cost savings isn’t the only benefit of managed networking. Here are some other advantages organizations can look forward to when they switch.
Easier Digital Transformations
Managed networking makes digital transformations easier for businesses because they’re working with professionals that have handled multiple similar innovations. The MSP can help the organization avoid common pitfalls and thoroughly plan their digital transformation to stay on time and under budget. They can also implement network automation, making the business more flexible and helping them adapt to change easier.
Less Burden on In-House IT Staff
Even if you do have in-house technical staff, you may want to keep room in their workloads available for innovative projects. Burnout is fairly common in the IT community, especially in recent years, and adding networking management on top of your team’s likely already full plate can add stress that leads to burnout. Plus, working on innovative endeavors can help your IT team feel valued and increase their sense of ownership in the role, leading to better retention. A managed networking provider can take the tedious work off their shoulders, so they can focus their time elsewhere.
More Proactive than Traditional Network Management
Because your in-house IT team has more to focus on than just network management, they may become reactive to problems, rather than performing proactive maintenance and optimizations. A managed networking MSP on the other hand, is solely responsible for the operation of your network, meaning they can afford to take more proactive measures, like implementing automation and backing up important data. An MSP can also centralize your critical business systems, making them easier to access and integrating them to organize data and insights.
What to Look for in a Managed Networking SLA
When choosing a managed networking provider, you’ll want to look at their service-level agreement (SLA) to ensure they’re covering everything you need.
Full Explanation of Services
An SLA should include everything the MSP is going to handle and what they expect your business to take care of. By spelling it out clearly in the beginning, there won’t be confusion later on, and your business can ensure that they aren’t ignoring any necessary tasks that the MSP doesn’t cover. Additionally, it keeps the MSP accountable for everything listed in the SLA, which can help settle any potential disputes down the road.
In addition to explaining what the MSP will handle, an SLA should include standards for quality, so there won’t be any dispute about whether the MSP is performing as expected. Some potential quality metrics that might be included in a managed networking SLA are:
- Bandwidth utilization
- Packet loss
These all inform how well the network is running and can help MSPs determine whether they need to perform additional maintenance or improve something on the network.
Uptime guarantees in the SLA often mean that the MSP will provide compensation for downtime exceeding the amount listed in the agreement. For example, if the SLA guarantees 99% uptime (a little under 723 hours each month), and the network goes down for 9 hours over the course of the month, that means the SLA has been violated, and the MSP will likely compensate you in some way. The compensation will vary between MSPs, so make sure the offer works for your business before signing a contract.
Is Managed Networking Right for Your Business?
Managed networking is a great option for businesses without an in-house IT team or that have plans for digital transformation on the horizon. It can help them optimize their network processes for more efficiency and prevent breaches before they happen. Additionally, managed networking cuts costs over traditional networking and may prevent burnout in in-house IT staff.
Not sure which managed networking provider is right for you? Learn How to Choose the Best IT Managed Service Provider.