best practice guide Network Management How to Lose the Frustration, Not the Control

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1 best practice guide Network Management How to Lose the Frustration, Not the Control

2 best practice guide Network Management How to Lose the Frustration, Not the Control So much of your organisation s success depends on the technology and the services that your ICT division delivers to the business. As an ICT decision-maker, you re compelled to cope with a shrinking budget and fewer resources. Ultimately, you re responsible for a network that must be available and working at maximum capacity to keep the business operating at its best. Yet, you also need to lead its evolution with an eye on the future. It s no wonder you re feeling a little anxious! The problem is, the more time and resources you spend on keeping things up and running, the less you have left to develop your network in line with business goals such as reaching new markets, or offering new products and services. Managed network services have been touted as a possible solution to your conundrum. But you re worried about that too: trusting a service provider to operate your network the platform for your business feels a lot like giving up control of its strategic development. Is there a way to remove the burden and the frustration of day-to-day network management without adding to the anxiety by fear of losing control?

3 best practice guide Network Management How to Lose the Frustration, Not the Control Warning signs It s not that easy for an in-house team to keep all the balls in the air. Here are seven signs that your network management burden may have become too heavy to handle on your own: 1. You lack management tools, or use them poorly This is a discipline on its own. The proper selection, configuration, management, and use of network management tools require specialist skills. Poor use of these tools can result in, at best, a lack of diagnostic support information, and at worst, incorrect or misleading information, which defeats the object of having them. Management tools are also expensive to have in-house if you don t have a large number of assets. 2. You re not using all your technology to its full potential Your IT division is just too small to properly run and manage all your advanced technologies, so the return on those investments remains unrealised. The vendors from which you ve bought the technologies can t help either, because their contracts don t include operational management. 3. Your service levels don t improve, which causes increased downtime Your division works in crisis mode all the time, so keeping your network up and running leaves no time to make improvements. Of course, dedicating entire resources to improvement is out of the question, because you need all the hands you can get to constantly fight fires. All of this leads to increased downtime, poor change and event management, and extended repair times when things go wrong. 4. Your costs are escalating... not decreasing It s becoming more and more expensive to manage your network in-house because you lack scale in your ICT division. You hire expensive experts to deliver low-end services, because you just don t have the budget to make a distinction in skills levels. Everyone in your division does everything. 5. Your business unit heads are engaging with outside providers Often, they ll source IT-as-a-service options directly from a provider without involving the ICT division. The perception is that the service they get there is more responsive and prompt, and therefore suits their immediate requirements better. 6. Your users complain that they have a better ICT experience at home than at work Today s employees particularly younger generations tend to be more technology savvy and connected at home than before. As a result, they re more demanding and have a low tolerance for inconsistent services or underperforming technology. 7. Your customers complain about not getting the same services as available at competing organisations Without improving your infrastructure with strategic and tactical considerations in mind, it s hard to keep your competitive edge. You re starting to fall behind the market in terms of launching new offerings.

4 best practice guide Network Management How to Lose the Frustration, Not the Control Losing face, losing trust, losing say If you recognise your organisation in any, or all, of these symptoms, you should see this as a cry for help. Your anxiety about losing strategic control of your network by sourcing management help from outside may be causing you to lose control of your operations instead. And the outcome of that might be more far-reaching than you expect. You may already be losing the trust of your business to deliver new and forwardthinking services. And that s only the first step: once trust is lost, so is influence. Before long, important top-level decisions about the vision, mission, and evolution of the business as a whole might be bypassing the ICT division altogether. Harsh as it may seem, your seat at the boardroom table may be disappearing as we speak. It s time to soothe your anxiety of losing control, and realise that you have nothing to fear but fear itself. The only thing to fear is fear itself It s time to reconsider. It s time to ask for help. If your question is still whether it s possible to rid your cash-strapped and understaffed ICT division of the burden and frustration of day-to-day maintenance without giving up control of your network s strategic future, the answer is a resounding yes. It s possible to do so in three wise steps: Step1: Free up some cash by cutting costs in the right place Look inside first. It s becoming a widely known fact that the biggest part of what your network costs you to own has nothing to do with how much you pay external service providers for things like basic maintenance and support services. In fact, if the way you operate your infrastructure is already showing the danger signs we ve discussed, the worst thing you can do is to reduce the level of help you get from outside. You can only save so much by skimping on service contracts. Probably as much as 85% of your budget goes to your internal run costs, that is, you re spending it on in-house engineers, logistics, vendor management, management tools, and training much of it to little effect because, chances are, your internal systems and processes are immature. And as your network grows in both size and complexity, the problem just gets worse. The bottom line is, take a long, hard look at how you do things internally. Try to standardise and streamline as much as you can, while also reducing your contract costs. This freed-up budget can then be spent on strategic development initiatives to evolve your infrastructure in line with advances in the industry. Step 2: Don t sweat the small stuff Systems and process standardisation usually makes it glaringly obvious that many of your most valuable in-house skills and resources are being wasted on simple, day-to-day tasks. These may just as well be assigned to an external services provider you can trust to offer you predictable costs and guaranteed service levels. Decide which services and functions you really need to do yourself, particularly those that have the most important strategic value. In other words, offload more of the regular operations, such as break-fixing and monitoring, while retaining more of the strategic functions, such as researching, planning, and development. Keep in mind: handing over more operational control is not the same as losing strategic control. Consider sourcing only service elements that fill the most glaring gaps in your operational support model. For example, you may want to tackle after-hours services first and need skilled night-time resources to be managed on your behalf. The point is, you decide what you re comfortable with, and then find a service provider that can deliver. Sourcing managed network services needn t be an all-or-nothing affair. Step 3: Pick the right partner This might be the most crucial of all the decisions you need to make. A provider of managed network services isn t the same as a provider of basic maintenance services. A vendor, for example, may look after only its own brand of technologies in your network, and has no visibility or say over the rest. Nor is a managed network service provider the same as an outsourcer. In an outsourced model, the provider is both responsible and accountable for the infrastructure. The provider therefore owns the strategy and the financial management and, after consulting with you, provides a service back to you at a negotiated service level. With a managed network service, you retain financial and strategic control and you re still accountable. The service provider is responsible only for the day-today operations. It s time to soothe your anxiety of losing control, and realise that you have nothing to fear but fear itself. Know that you re not alone either. Increasing numbers of organisations in your position today are seeing managed network services as the best way to improve service levels and reduce costs without losing strategic and financial control.

5 best practice guide Network Management How to Lose the Frustration, Not the Control How mature are your operational support systems and processes? Even more reason to pick the right services partner are the findings of Dimension Data s Network Barometer Report Among other data sets, the Report analysed support service requests handled by Dimension Data s Global Service Centres, which were logged against client devices under management. It found that the great majority of incidents (84%) were not caused by network devices, but by factors outside the remit of an ordinary maintenance contract. In addition, maintenance levels for these devices varied depending on their lifecycle stage newer wasn t necessarily better. The most important requirement for a successful network is therefore a mature set of operational tools and processes, but with the majority of organisations still at low levels of maturity, the risk of unnecessary downtime is high if they haven t employed better help from outside. The most important requirement for a successful network is therefore a mature set of operational tools and processes, but with the majority of organisations still at low levels of maturity, the risk of unnecessary downtime is high if they haven t employed better help from outside. Tough questions to ask a potential service provider when considering its managed network services: 1. Are you able and willing to customise your service(s) to suit the gaps I ve identified in my operational model? How much? 2. How is your service packaged/ constructed? Tell me about the service elements and what they cover. 3. How is your service delivered? Tell me about your systems and processes and how they measure up to industry standards. 4. What does your global footprint look like? Will you be able to serve me locally in all the countries in which my organisation has offices? 5. Which technologies and vendors do you cover? What is your level of expertise and certification in each? 6. How do your service and its delivery model measure up to other services in the industry? Do you have any independent or industry analystdriven comparisons? 7. How many, and which, other businesses of my size do you already serve? Increasing numbers of organisations in your position today are seeing managed network services as the best way to improve service levels and reduce costs without losing strategic and financial control. CS / DDMS-1663 / 06/14 Copyright Dimension Data 2014 For further information visit:

6 Middle East & Africa Asia Australia Europe Americas Algeria Angola Botswana Congo Burundi Democratic Republic of the Congo Gabon Ghana Kenya Malawi Mauritius Morocco Mozambique Namibia Nigeria Oman Rwanda Saudi Arabia South Africa Tanzania Uganda United Arab Emirates Zambia China Hong Kong India Indonesia Japan Korea Malaysia New Zealand Philippines Singapore Taiwan Thailand Vietnam Australian Capital Territory New South Wales Queensland South Australia Victoria Western Australia Austria Belgium Czech Republic France Germany Hungary Italy Ireland Luxembourg Netherlands Poland Portugal Slovakia Spain Switzerland Turkey United Kingdom Brazil Canada Chile Mexico United States For contact details in your region please visit

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