Over the past 10 years, C-Suite executives and business owners across almost every industry, have become dependent upon high-speed, reliable, and secure wireless networks to power their daily operations. Yet, with this dependency comes inherent complexity and risk.
While its benefits are undeniable, companies without the luxury of having in-house IT resources that are specialized in managing Wi-Fi, often struggle to keep their networks performing properly. Managed network services provide a cost-effective solution to many of these interrelated problems.
Gartner defines managed network services as, “a vendor’s delivery of primarily operational support for a new environment in which the hardware assets, financial obligations and personnel still remain on the books of the customer.”
In this article, you’ll learn three reasons why your business should be using managed network services in 2019.
1) Mobile devices are the primary way we access the network (and the rise of the IoT)
What do these devices all have in common?
- Smart watches
They’re designed for extreme mobility; you won’t even find a place to plug in an Ethernet cable on most of them (some laptops still do). Now let’s include take a look at these devices:
- Vending machines
- HVAC systems
What do they all have in common? They all have access to your network through the internet of things. According to a new research report from Business Insider Intelligence, “…there will be more than 64 billion IoT devices by 2025, up from about 10 billion in 2018.”
So, while nearly all companies need network infrastructure at each location that’s powered by physical twisted pair and fiber cables, when we look at the devices or “things” that are inside our businesses today, almost all of them are connecting to our networks through Wi-Fi and/or are mobile. And that changes the nature and complexity of how we manage our wireless networks.
To guarantee that your business stays operational, you’ll need constant visibility into the on-going health of your network as well as a way to measure Wi-Fi performance from the end-user’s point of view all in real-time.
This presents for most businesses two questions, “How do we do this and Who is going to provide those services?”
If your company has a large, in-house IT team where a staff member is available on-site at each location, perhaps it makes more sense to staff up your army of enterprise Wi-Fi specialists onto your payroll.
However, if that sounds like overkill or way too expensive, you’re right. In most cases, outsourcing managed network services to a company like SecurEdge is usually much more cost-effective, and makes a lot more logistical and financial sense for most businesses.
2) Wi-Fi is now a mission-critical utility
As businesses become increasingly driven by technology and cloud-based applications, one-size-fits-most is no longer the best approach to how we design and manage our wireless networks.
For example, in the hospitality industry, restaurant owners are already deploying the Internet of Things (IoT) to improve the dining experience, employee efficiency, and profitability -- all of which are critical to remaining competitive.
In retail locations, guest Wi-Fi is no longer a luxury. Without fast, reliable, and secure Wi-Fi, you will lose customers and revenue. So for starters, retail owners and operators often need to invest in a captive portal to get a better handle on how their wireless networking infrastructure is being used.
Within a healthcare environment, such as a hospital or clinic, medical grade Wi-Fi is now mission-critical for daily operations (i.e. the use of electronic health records, EHR systems).
Think about it: does it make sense to “go cheap” on network infrastructure when lives are literally on the line? The challenge, however, is that hospital administrators need to provide excellent healthcare within the finite amount of available resources.
Another example would be in higher education, where schools are using applications like Moodle, Blackboard and online testing for their daily operations. If the network goes down, they effectively can no longer have class.
What all of this means, is that businesses need to have a system in place to manage their networks on an ongoing basis. With the right managed network services solution this can be done correctly and with minimal impact on your bottom-line.
3) Wi-Fi networks are dynamic (they’re constantly changing)
When many businesses invest in wireless networking infrastructure, they make a widespread mistake. They invest in high-end Wi-Fi hardware, like access points and switches etc. but fail to think long-term or even intermediate-term on how they are going to support their new systems over time.
Back when business networks were relatively static, and most devices plugged into a network with an ethernet cable, many small environments could get away with a very ad-hoc, manual approach to network management. However, the ever-changing nature of how Wi-Fi devices are used in most companies forces an entirely different approach to managing networks.
In other words, even if you get your Wi-Fi design 100% right and you’re using the best hardware, and it’s all been installed or engineered correctly, things can still go wrong.
Because our wireless networks are continually changing. From the types of devices, the number of devices, the physical environment itself, they all change, and this leaves most companies highly susceptible to experiencing Wi-Fi problems.
Many companies don’t have a strategy for supporting their wireless network on an ongoing basis following deployment.
Ten or twenty years ago, if a PC didn’t get updated with the latest version of Microsoft Windows or its antivirus software, that sloppy approach to patching had limited ramifications. Today, in a world where security breaches, malware, ransomware, phishing, distributed denial of service (DDoS), and social engineering attacks happen with increasing frequency and intensity, every business is a potential target.
Beyond the security threats business today face they also are dealing with the threat of lost revenue from having poor Wi-Fi performance. Every time the network goes down, productivity decreases. Even if the network is up, if your applications aren’t performing on the network properly, you’re still losing revenue—not to mention the long-term impact it can have on how your business is perceived by both employees and guests.
The Bottom Line on Managed Network Services
Today’s wireless networks require the right combination of three major components:
- Hardware (access points, switches, power etc.)
- Software (access control, network management—including performance monitoring)
- Managed Network Services (an ongoing process to service/maintain your network over-time)
Businesses without a managed network services solution in place, usually suffer from unreliable and sluggish Wi-Fi performance because their networks are not being continuously maintained and optimized to operate as they were designed.
These same companies are generally more susceptible to security breaches and lost revenue than they realize. It can be nearly impossible for companies without deep benches of IT staff, especially those highly-trained in enterprise Wi-Fi, to execute this properly.
As companies of all sizes, across most industries, have become much more dependent on Wi-Fi and networking as a competitive necessity, having fast, reliable and secure Wi-Fi has become as familiar as other mission-critical utilities like power, running water, and heating/air conditioning.
If your business is large enough that it can afford a big, in-house IT department, with experts on enterprise Wi-Fi, you’re in the small minority. For most other companies, managed network services fill an extremely important gap that often stands in the way of keeping Wi-Fi networks and the businesses they support performing at their best.