Some aspects of running a network like IP routing are so time consuming and complex that they can take up an inordinate amount of a technicians’s time — a reason in itself to hand over a complex network to an outsourcer, according to Steve Carter, manager of IP VPNs at giant outsourcer BT Global Services.
“Many years ago, companies bought private circuits with frame relay, and did all the IP routing themselves. Now that the IT space is getting more complex, many of our customers’ heads of IT are asking why they are involving themselves in networking when they should perhaps be spending more time on application management. For 70 to 80 percent of all the contacts we handle, we do all their IP routing.”
But it’s really when it comes to international operations that large outsourcers have the clearest advantage over individual businesses, he says. “Managing a network is hard, but managing an international network in 50 countries is close to impossible,” says Carter. Sound familiar? Anyone with experience dealing with multiple telcos in many countries around the world will know all about the multitude of different interfaces to contend with, restrictions on the import of certain routers, and all the other fun and games. There’s no doubt that handing over the problem to one company that specializes in these types of issues is likely to be a more productive use of time than trying to do it in-house, with fewer resources and from a local headquarters.
Drawbacks of Network Outsourcing
What about the drawbacks of network outsourcing? The main problems are likely to be cultural, and there are a number of questions to address. Do senior managers want to see parts of the company handed over to a third party? And how will staff react?
And what about appliances attached to the network, such as packet shapers or other application management devices? Will an outsourcer take over the licenses and management of these, and if not, what alternatives can they offer? Timing is also key: most networks involve many different licenses and contracts, and these are rarely synchronized to expire at once.
The bottom line for any organization looking at network outsourcing is whether it will result in an overall benefit to the business. The most important question to ask then is this: “What makes the difference between a successful and unsuccessful network outsourcing deal?”
Carter’s advice is simple. “It’s not uncommon to approach an outsourcer with an idea that you want to cut costs, when actually you’re planning to roll out a new app and need help making changes to your network. So make sure you spend plenty of time with your potential outsourcing supplier, and make sure you know exactly what you want from them.”