As more companies become highly dependent on technology, the need for dependable and secure network infrastructure resources grows as well. Enterprises have become dependent on high-quality networks that can transport large quantities of data at high speeds.
Some enterprises have adopted privately operated services to meet their needs. Privately operated networks typically include fiber optic cable only, giving enterprise IT teams the freedom to light their dark fiber strands, configure, and manage their network in-house.
More commonly, however, large businesses look for managed network services providers. These providers offer network solutions such as dedicated internet access, ethernet, and wavelength services that provide high-quality business connections without requiring the enterprise IT teams to manage the network internally.
The challenge for businesses that are evaluating managed network services providers is finding the right one. Nationally known providers are often the default choice, but can lack key capabilities and the dedication to customer success.
As enterprises look for managed network service providers to meet their growing needs, a close look at a provider’s capabilities will help determine which provider can best serve your business and IT needs. Here are four of the top capabilities to look for in your managed network services provider.
1. Customizable Services
Networks are not one-size-fits-all. Businesses in different industries have different security, speed, and bandwidth needs. The best managed network services providers will have a range of solutions to fit different business sizes and requirements, along with the ability to tailor each offering to individual companies.
Successful companies should also look for a provider that’s equipped to grow with them. Providers should be able to expand or upgrade solutions to meet increasing bandwidth or changing security needs. For example, as your company’s employees and customer needs expand and change, you may need to transition from dedicated internet access to wavelength services. While both offer high-bandwidth capability and continuous connectivity, wavelength service has a more flexible architecture, allowing you to grow your data network without switching providers or adding infrastructure responsibility to your IT team.
2. On-Net Locations
For companies who need to get their service up and running quickly, look for a managed network provider has a large on-net area. On-net areas are locations that are on an existing fiber optic network and thus can be easily connected. A large on-net area ensures you will have access to secure and reliable internet connections that will make it possible for your business to handle the rising concern around big data and other processing needs.
Companies with offices that aren’t on net face longer implementation timelines and higher costs. Custom builds may be required, and time frames can be expanded from just one to three months to six months or over a year.
3. Commitment to Growth
Network services and infrastructure are what are commonly called “table stakes”. Managed network services providers much have infrastructure and services to gain customers, but the best providers go beyond their existing services and commit to growing their network to better serve customers.
Look for a provider who’s known to have an existing fiber optic network in your area with plenty of on-net locations, but who is actively expanding to new areas as well. These providers will be more likely to get your network up and running quickly at your current location as well as be able to serve your business as you grow and expand into new areas. For example, expanding on-net locations in key business areas like Southern California will ensure enterprises can keep pace when processing data.
4. Local Customer Service
More and more, a company’s profits and efficiency are tied to the quality and reliability of their networks. Downtime is costly in terms of production, customer service, and administration. To reduce costs, look for providers that can partner with you to provide a reliable network with minimal downtime and quick issue resolution.
In many cases, the best tactic to take here is to go local. National providers may be well-known, but they also deal with network concerns across a wide area and can’t always dedicate resources to your network as quickly as you need them. Local providers bring with them an enhanced level of service, offering in-depth knowledge of potential problems affecting your area and the ability to respond with effective solutions more quickly.
Minimize Downtime and Management Needs with the Right Provider
Working with managed network service providers reduces the burden on your internal IT team, freeing them up from network management to focus on more strategic initiatives. By looking for a provider with these capabilities, you’ll also position your company for growth with a provider that’s committed to personalized service and expansion.
When evaluating your options, weigh these options against costs and the consequences of potential problems. The best option will be the provider who offers cost-effective service with a high level of reliability so your business can increase productivity and continue to grow.
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