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Managed Services Enabled Strategic Focus of IT Resources, Part II

As noted in Part I, global sensor manufacturer Measurement Specialties Inc. (MSI) faced multiple challenges with its managed network services provider. It suffered from excessive downtime, and the team of IS/IT director Bob Andreini spent too much time solving problems that were the responsibilities of their provider.

Andreini brought in Virtela, a Greenwood Village, Colo.-based managed network services provider that works with multiple vendors of networking equipment, including Cisco. It devised a mesh network using Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) technology that eliminated the point-to-point problems that plagued MSI previously.

He describes it as a seamless network with multiple subnetworks, "almost like a black box. Someone in Fremont, Calif., can send something to our site in Shenzen, China via the most logical route over the network."

Automatic Backup
At the same time, MSI's downtime has disappeared. Virtela set up a back-up DSL circuit at each of MSI's sites, so that if anything does go wrong, the back-ups kick in automatically. "We can't even tell when it happens," says Andreini. "Usually we only find out after we get notification from Virtela's operations center." The cost of the DSL lines is only a couple hundred dollars a month, and he estimates that MSI now enjoys more than 99% reliability.

Even with his difficult experience, Andreini was still sold on outsourcing his network services. "I didn't want to beef up on network engineers internally, because that technology is so complex. Having a partner that could take care of that was very attractive."

Dramatic Time Savings
Having a managed network services provider also gives Andreini "dramatic time savings. When every event took two days of firefighting, we were unproductive in other projects. It was very disruptive, and took the equivalent of at least two full-time people. Having a managed network services provider means I can have my staff focus on the strategic IT needs of the business, not running the infrastructure."

The moral of the story is that it's important to look closely at your managed services provider. Don't look just at their services, but at their business model and their telecom relationships. Determine how their plans suit your company, and your plans for your company's growth. As MSI found, it was able to shift from an unsatisfactory provider to a satisfactory one and reap the benefit of reliability.