1 SASKTEL BUSINESS SOLUTIONS_OPTIMIZING YOUR BUSINESS WITH MANAGED NETWORK SERVICES SEPTEMBER, 2015 OPTIMIZING YOUR BUSINESS WITH MANAGED NETWORK SERVICES
2 SASKTEL BUSINESS SOLUTIONS_OPTIMIZING YOUR BUSINESS WITH MANAGED NETWORK SERVICES 2 OVERVIEW Business technology solutions have grown and continue to grow in number, complexity, and strategic importance. While the growth is exciting, it s challenging IT departments that are already under budget and resource pressures. Many of these departments are turning to experts outside of their organizations to help them manage the technologies and business processes they support. In this paper, we will study what Managed Network Services (MNS) are, how they can apply to business, and why finding a reliable Managed Services Provider (MSP) can help deliver significant benefits to the growth of business.
3 SASKTEL BUSINESS SOLUTIONS_OPTIMIZING YOUR BUSINESS WITH MANAGED NETWORK SERVICES 3 WHAT ARE MANAGED SERVICES? Managed Services are the practice of outsourcing day-to-day business management responsibilities and functions to a Managed Service Provider (MSP) in order to strategically improve operations and cut expenses. Managed Services can include Managed Network, Managed Infrastructure, Managed Application, Managed Desktop, or Managed Security Services, just to name a few. Ultimately, all managed services aim to allow businesses to continually evaluate their performance, assess how well their goals are being met, and make the necessary adjustments to their plans and objectives. Managed Services have become increasingly popular among organizations realizing the benefit of outsourcing tasks that are difficult to manage due to a lack of knowledge or expertise, or simply because it is more economical to have a third party perform these tasks. Naturally, with customer demand increasing, customer preference has influenced the way managed services are defined and how they are delivered. Frost & Sullivan (2014) suggest that the new managed services must encompass the following qualities: Proactive monitoring by the provider s expert staff Utilize rich, real-time performance and operations data Provide visibility to the customer via a management portal Support real-time actions Recognize customer defined success parameters A number of providers broke into the managed services market by offering managed versions of their own services and products. According to Frost & Sullivan (2014), Cloud Service Providers, Security Service Providers, and Application Service Providers were some of these. However, as the Managed Services market becomes more mature, new service providers are creating an incredibly competitive environment and an overwhelming amount of choice for customers. Forrester (2013) suggests four major types of providers now rule the Managed Services market, including Value
4 SASKTEL BUSINESS SOLUTIONS_OPTIMIZING YOUR BUSINESS WITH MANAGED NETWORK SERVICES 4 Added Resellers (VARs), Telcos, Tech Vendors, and Cloud Infrastructure/Software Service Providers. Often, the types of Managed Services offered by these providers are influenced by what field the provider is an expert in. For example, it is common for Telcos to provide network management services considering most are managing a large network of their own. On the other hand, managed services can also be a natural extension of a service provider s offerings. For instance, a managed security services offering may complement a VARs existing security appliances. Many research firms continue to predict growth for the Managed Services market over the next 5 years: According to Markets and Markets Research Company, the global managed services market (including Managed Data Centre, Managed Network, Managed Mobility, Managed Infrastructure, Managed Communications, Managed Information, and Managed Security) is expected to grow from $ billion in 2014 to $ billion by 2019, at an estimated CAGR of 12.5% from 2014 to According to a CompTIA 2015 Trends in Managed Services study, 68% of the 350 IT and business professionals in the U.S. that were surveyed indicated they used an outside IT firm to manage one or more of their IT functions or to provide implementation, integration, or other IT project work. In addition, 50% of respondents indicated that they would consider using an outside IT firm in the next two years, while another 15% are currently evaluating an outside IT firm. In 2015, Gartner and MSP Alliance joint research estimated that one quarter of the global IT spend, or $154 billion, is on managed services (including cloud) in North America. In an August 2013 report, Research and Markets identified the high growth segments for managed services to include Managed Infrastructure, Managed Mobility, and Managed Data Centre.
5 SASKTEL BUSINESS SOLUTIONS_OPTIMIZING YOUR BUSINESS WITH MANAGED NETWORK SERVICES 5 As business technology solutions grow in number, complexity, and strategic importance, resource-strapped IT departments are increasingly turning to outside experts to help them manage those technologies and the business processes they support. - Frost and Sullivan WHAT ARE MANAGED NETWORK SERVICES (MNS)? Managed Network Services (MNS) are a type of Managed Service that enables businesses to outsource the management of their network and customer premise equipment (CPE), such as routers, switches, firewalls, access points, and more. In most cases, Managed Service Providers (MSP) support multi-vendor environments giving customers flexibility to choose their preferred vendors for network devices. MSPs proactively monitor the health, security, and performance of the network infrastructure, while providing incident management and problem resolution which help avoid network downtime. Some MSPs even include options such as hardware support, quality assurance reviews and reporting, or an online portal where customers can report issues or request changes to their service. MNS encourages businesses to move away from CAPEX models and pursue predictable operating expense (OPEX) models. A major benefit of MNS is that customers avoid bearing the cost of purchasing their own applications that provide specific monitoring capabilities, along with the expertise required to manage the tools and processes required. Ultimately, MNS allows businesses to predict monthly costs, allocate more time to core business objectives, experience superior network performance, and reduce expenses.
6 SASKTEL BUSINESS SOLUTIONS_OPTIMIZING YOUR BUSINESS WITH MANAGED NETWORK SERVICES 6 WHAT CHALLENGES CAN MNS ADDRESS? Network infrastructure has grown increasingly complex, putting pressure on many businesses IT resources and budgets. Improving the reliability of network and IT operations is becoming difficult or near impossible for companies who are unable to keep up with the pressure new services put on their network, accompanied by growing compliance and security demands. With so many factors to consider and a high level of responsibility required just to maintain network and infrastructure, an organization s core business objectives and overall success can be at risk. So, what are some of the key challenges that MNS can help businesses overcome? CHALLENGE 1 Improving the reliability of your overall network and developing efficiencies within your network operations and management. Cause Organizations who are unable to proactively monitor their network infrastructure run the risk of network issues and downtime. Most organizations managing their own network operations are using a break/fix model which doesn t mitigate the risk of network downtime, or issues which are easily preventable by proactively monitoring network elements. With increased traffic from video and other high bandwidth applications, network congestion and downtime are a real risk. Businesses must challenge themselves to look for new ways to protect their network and develop efficiencies that will allow them to react and resolve in a timely manner. How can MNS help? The most important feature of Managed Network Services is proactive monitoring and alarming which allows the MSP and customer to be informed of thresholds crossed that could result in service impacting issues. By proactively monitoring a business internal network, MNS providers can resolve issues before they lead to network degradation or even worse, downtime. In addition, MNS providers can offer recommendations on how to improve operational efficiencies and network performance since they regularly gather device information including utilization and availability metrics and more.
7 SASKTEL BUSINESS SOLUTIONS_OPTIMIZING YOUR BUSINESS WITH MANAGED NETWORK SERVICES 7 CHALLENGE 2 Meeting customer demands and delivering on the customer experience you promise. Cause Customers must be able to access information, products or services, and personnel from any device, anywhere. This experience is often dependent on the network that delivers the service to the customer thus businesses must mitigate any risk of network performance issues or downtime. The challenge is most businesses have small IT teams with numerous responsibilities beyond only monitoring their internal network. With a focus on keeping the lights on only, where do businesses find time to focus on core strategic objectives that will not only meet your customer demands today, but also in the future? How can MNS help? Simply put, outsourcing any IT function will allow IT departments more time to focus on core business objectives such as a stronger customer experience. That extra time could be used for revenue generating activity such as application development, new service development, or finally developing that online portal your customers have been waiting for. CHALLENGE 3 Following best practices and remaining compliant in order to keep your network secure. Cause It can be difficult to keep a finger on the pulse of current industry standards or best practices when the right experts aren t available in your organization to help make sense of all the information the industry is throwing your way. Although this information can be integral to the health and performance of your network, it can also seem daunting to constantly upgrade or refresh your network equipment when you can t decipher the value it will provide. Security is a major concern and often times organizations are at risk of security breaches if equipment or applications are not up to date with the latest protective measures put in place. How can MNS help? MNS providers are network experts. They have certified resources who understand what direction the industry is moving towards, the latest standards or best practices in place, and what security measures should be put in place to protect your network.
8 SASKTEL BUSINESS SOLUTIONS_OPTIMIZING YOUR BUSINESS WITH MANAGED NETWORK SERVICES 8 OUTSOURCING VERSUS INSOURCING As businesses consider whether or not to seek help managing their network services, it s important to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of outsourcing to an MSP versus keeping management in-house. Outsourcing BENEFITS DRAWBACKS Optimized and efficient budget allocation Cost efficiencies Freed IT capacity to focus on larger, more strategic business imperatives Peace of mind knowing your network health and performance rests in an expert s hands Constant monitoring, management, and upkeep of network infrastructure Provides flexibility in staffing and people management Alleviates businesses from substantial investments in technology and infrastructure Access to strategic third-party partnerships Lack of quality control Risk of confidential information or sensitive data being exposed Impact to team morale Potential for hidden costs Insourcing BENEFITS DRAWBACKS Quality control not at risk Greater sense of control over data and management Fewer concerns from employees about job security Strapped IT resources Inadequate budget allocation can lead to lack of innovation and limit ability to meet strategic business objectives Lack of expertise to manage and troubleshoot Costly to access newer technologies Challenging to keep staff trained on latest standards or technologies sweeping the market
9 SASKTEL BUSINESS SOLUTIONS_OPTIMIZING YOUR BUSINESS WITH MANAGED NETWORK SERVICES 9 The benefits of outsourcing are clear. However, businesses should consider the drawbacks and understand how they can protect themselves by negotiating favourable contracts, ensuring their information will be safely stored, or knowing how to address internal employee concerns in order to have a successful outsourcing experience. HOW TO CHOOSE A MANAGED SERVICE PROVIDER Once you make the decision to outsource, businesses should consider a few factors before selecting an MSP. These should include, but are not limited to, the MSP s experience, support model, flexibility in service offering/s, and transparency in pricing model, and more. The 5 core competency categories below can also help businesses ensure that the MSP in question meets their specific needs and goals, ensuring they are selecting a partner not just a provider that will help them work toward a shared vision. Capabilities & offerings Data protection & accountability Support Expertise Cost & contacts What metrics are used to access speed, reliability, and overall network performance? Are you able to not only diagnose problems remotely, but also fix them without my intervention? What methods are used to protect my data? Who owns my data if it is hosted at your facility? How is data backup and disaster recovery handled? How is support provided (phone, , IM)? Is emergency support available 24/7? What type of training is provided to ensure my staff gets the most out of this investment? How does your team stay current with new technology developments and trends? What percentage of your business is dedicated to managed services vs. other types of business models? What relevant industry credentials or certifications, if any, does your firm or team have? What is your level of expertise with the regulatory compliance requirements for my industry? What is the fee structure? Are there any extra or hidden fees? Do you conduct an upfront network assessment before quoting a fee for the contract? How much does this cost? Do you use the same service level agreement for all customers or can we negotiate/collaborate its terms individually?
10 SASKTEL BUSINESS SOLUTIONS_OPTIMIZING YOUR BUSINESS WITH MANAGED NETWORK SERVICES 10 The most successful providers will be the service providers and MSPs who best understand that their customers are looking for a partnership. - Frost and Sullivan CONCLUSION Although Managed Network Services can help solve many issues, the decision to outsource can be a difficult one. Between determining what to outsource, and who to outsource to, there are a lot of factors to contemplate. But consider the benefits: outsourcing non-core competencies can lead to significant cost savings, realign focus on core business objectives, and ensure that your most important IT assets are being managed by a professional. For many businesses, it s time to focus on the objectives that will lead their organization to success. The right MNS partner will empower businesses to focus on their real needs.
11 SASKTEL BUSINESS SOLUTIONS_OPTIMIZING YOUR BUSINESS WITH MANAGED NETWORK SERVICES 11 ABOUT THE SPONSOR SaskTel owns and operates the largest and fastest Saskatchewan network and has over a century of experience as the leading industry expert in network operations and management. With world-class infrastructure and decades-long commitment to Saskatchewan, SaskTel is dedicated to providing quality and customized end-to-end solutions to help your business succeed. CONTACT Let s start a conversation. sasktel.com/mns SaskTel Representative SASKTEL Or get in touch with us on Twitter and LinkedIn
12 SASKTEL BUSINESS SOLUTIONS_OPTIMIZING YOUR BUSINESS WITH MANAGED NETWORK SERVICES 12 SOURCES 1. Forrester Inc., The Forrester WaveTM: Managed Global MPLS Services, Q1 2013, by Brownlee Thomas 2. Forrester Inc., Market Overview: Managed Services Providers, Part 2, May 2013, by Jonathan Silber 3. Frost & Sullivan, The New Managed Services: Flexibility, Accountability, and Control, 2014 by Lynda Stadtmueller 4. CompTIA, Trends in Managed Services, CompTIA, Buying Guide for Managed Services, Haber, Lynn. CompTIA: strategic MSP role among top trends in managed services. TechTarget. 01 June Web. 25 August Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Network Performance Monitoring and Diagnostics, Haber, Lynn. MSP Alliance research points to managed services trends, vertical opportunities. TechTarget. 30 March Web. 14 September 2015.