The future of traditional industries is generally discussed in terms of three issues: digitization, the Internet of Things and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Digitization is creating disruption on many levels. For example, it is accelerating and simplifying collaboration within and across multiple industries, and drastically shortening innovation cycles.
The effects of these developments are apparent in two key areas. First, businesses are launching new applications to generate additional revenue or to enhance efficiency. In response, IT departments need to play a more strategic role. Second, employees are using their own, and the very latest generation of devices at work. IT departments must embrace this phenomenon, and will need to become more specialized if they are to develop and implement corresponding, cutting-edge applications.
Managed services offer a viable way forward. Under this arrangement, IT departments must transfer some of their responsibilities for LANs, WANs and application operations. However, even if they choose a managed model, enterprises will seek the best possible return on investment. They closely examine the investment made and the outcomes achieved. They are looking for tangible added value, such as lower operating costs and greater efficiency – but while safeguarding the foundations of network management, namely security, availability and reliability. Against this background, organizations turn to managed services out of necessity and not merely for the sake of convenience.
The latest generation of managed services must deliver far more than simply network access or efficient LAN administration for users. Managed
services must enable appropriate network access across multiple levels of security, and maximize operational stability – and these tasks must be performed within a customer-specific IT environment. To this end, managed services must include comprehensive support: from service desks (level 1) to the deployment of highly skilled, certified specialists and the involvement of experts from component vendors (level 3). A coherent, clearly structured network architecture and effective LAN management processes are the basis for standardization of network resources for all applications and all sites worldwide.
However, it is difficult or impossible to master these challenges with complex, legacy network architectures.
End-to-end standardization is a prerequisite for efficient LAN management. It begins with the nuts and bolts – switches, LAN controllers, and similar hardware components – and extends to LAN management processes. Harmonization drives down costs and generates efficiencies.
Security and reliability
Security and reliability are a priority for all LAN administrators, and require consistent processes and proven technologies, such as Radius, VLAN and network access control (NAC). By opting for a managed service, the customer benefits from continuous LAN monitoring. This ensures ongoing visibility into network performance and security. In addition, IT decision makers can control individual components from a central management dashboard. Managed LAN services are not limited to operations monitoring, or to the installation and replacement of components. They also play a vital part in responding to incidents, such as performance issues, outages and cyber-attacks.
Cloud-based network management
Hardware deployed to configure and manage wireless local networks (WLANs) generates additional costs. This type of functionality is also available in the form of pay-as-you-go, multi-tenant cloud offerings. The benefit for customers is that there is no need to invest in hardware at all sites. The service provider assumes responsibility for managing the functionality. Customers can monitor their resources via dashboards.
Managing LANs in-house and owning associated hardware generates high costs without delivering a direct business benefit. Outsourcing reduces expenditure on administration, on-site services, support, and ongoing operations. Moreover, service providers frequently offer a choice of pricing models. These may be based on a price per device -- e.g. switch – or a fixed monthly fee per data, voice or server port managed. Certain providers have started to offer completely scalable usage-based pricing. In addition, port-based pricing offer a simple, transparent way to distribute costs internally – by allocating ports to cost centers, for example.