What heralds the future in this announcement is that service provider management of WAN services is on its way to become the default standard. That’s a far cry from the last half-century of bandwidth services. You ordered your dedicated lines, set up your networks and supplied your own staff to monitor operation. If something went haywire when the lights were off overnight, it got discovered and dealt with in the morning. A multi-national or otherwise 24/7 operation provided its own NOC to keep track of LANs and WANs worldwide.
Perhaps it has been the constant hammering on cost reductions caused by the deep recession that were are just now coming out of. Company budgets have been beaten down and beaten down to the point where business as usual a decade ago is just plain unaffordable anymore. Out of desperation, companies have sought out new methods of getting business done that don’t involve so many people and so much investment.
Into this opportunity gap have stepped the managed IT service offerings. That’s everything from outsourcing your entire IT department to partnering with suppliers to take over responsibility for maintaining the integrity of the line service you lease, to closing data centers and shipping the equipment to a colo center or selling it off in favor of doing everything in the cloud.
The common theme is lease versus ownership. Ownership certainly has its advantages. It also has its responsibilities. Medium and larger companies liked the idea of having everything under their tight control in-house. After all, who’s going to look after your interests like you do yourself? It’s easier to control security and network configurations when your people are running the show. If you have to go outside to get a connection, like you do with telecom services, you simply have the carrier nail up a line between point A and point B. If and when it fails, your terminal equipment will set off the alarms and you get on the phone to file a trouble report and then monitor the progress of the repairs.
What downsizing pressures and lack of available capital have done is slowly pry the tight grip of total control away from corporate staff in favor of letting outside suppliers provide some services and take responsibility for their performance. What many companies are discovering, to their surprise, is that providers can be trusted to deliver and maintain everything from networks to computing resources and business telephone switching.
Managed WAN services can be anything from a point to point T1 line to a complex international MPLS network with hundreds or thousands of connections. The demarcation point becomes the managed router rather than the smart jack. By installing Customer Premises Equipment (CPE), service providers have a view of everything on the WAN between your LAN edges. That includes all last mile connections as well as what’s going on with the core network.
That CPE is destined to move farther and farther into the local network as customers come to trust their IT service providers. Once they realize that the carrier or cloud provider is catching and fixing problems faster than they had been doing themselves, the reluctance to lease rather than own resources will fade away. The desire to return to an era of high capital investments, higher staffing levels and slow response to sudden demand changes will disappear. The flexibility of the company to adapt to change will correspondingly increase and older paradigms will seem as quaint as stacks of punched cards and racks of glowing vacuum tubes.
Are you being squeezed for investment capital and personnel, yet dependent on high performance information technology and telecommunications to be competitive? If so, perhaps now is the perfect time to consider managed IT and network services. Compare the costs and flexibility and see if managed solutions can be of service to your company.