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Glenn Katz

Vice President and General Manager of Enterprise Services at Comcast Business

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Build or Buy: The Network Manager’s Conundrum

November 18, 2015

Considerations for determining whether you should maintain your IT/network services in-house or outsource to a managed service provider.

Your network is taking a pounding from the company BYOD initiative, and you’ve noticed increased latency and other performance issues as various business units take full advantage of easy-to-access cloud services. Not to mention your own efforts to leverage the cloud and virtualize services. It’s clear your corporate wide area network (WAN) needs an upgrade, and now it’s decision time. Are you going to build a next-gen WAN to keep pace with increased bandwidth requirements, or are you going to lease a managed private network from a service provider? Before you get started, you’ll want to do the following:

  • Forecast your bandwidth requirements: You’ve almost certainly got an idea of how much bandwidth you need to meet your current needs, but what about three to five years from now, or even 10 years out? You’ll need to get the full picture from the C-suite about what’s in the plans in the near and long term so you know just what kind of services you’ll need to provide.
  • Consider the economics: Whichever solution you choose, costs are involved. You need to have a full understanding of your company’s financial status. Are you expecting significant growth? If you choose to build your own network, will you have the cash to make the initial fiber, hardware and software outlay and to support associated maintenance and upgrades?
  • Assess your manpower: Does your team have sufficient training to manage a private next-gen network or will you need to train and/or hire? If you’re considering managing your own private network, make sure your team has (or you have the budget to hire) folks with specialized skillsets, and the ability to fund their ongoing training, so you and your network can keep pace with new technology as it comes to market. If you’d rather your team focus on innovation for the business, rather than managing a corporate WAN, you may want to consider a managed service.
  • Determine how much control you require: Depending on your industry, you may be subject to a host of industry and privacy regulations, or you might require the ability to fine-tune your network to achieve lowest latency and maximum competitive advantage. The more control you require, the more important it may be to manage your own network. Alternatively, you might seek specialized managed services that come with strict service-level agreements (SLAs) and other assurances.

If you’ve done the required due diligence, and you’ve discovered you’re ready to take the managed services plunge, you’ll want to get a short list of managed services providers together and begin the vetting process. Get advice on what to look for, and how to manage your managed services provider, here.

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