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Showing posts from February, 2009

How Managed Service Provider Accreditation Helps Buyers

In today's changing volatile economy, companies find the predictable monthly service charges of a managed service provider (MSP) highly attractive. They can deploy technology, confident that they're not pouring money down a black hole. The problem is, scads of technology providers are now trying to recast themselves as MSPs. How can you tell which ones are qualified? That's Charles Weaver’s job. He's CEO of the 8,000-member International Association of Managed Service Providers . His nine-year-old group offers an accreditation program for managed service providers, and it's closer to a bar exam than a pro forma blessing. No MSP has ever received a perfect score, and it can take as many as three tries before a company passes. (For more on MSP accreditation, see When Selecting Qualified MSPs, Assume Nothing .) Part Technology, All Business The Managed Services Accreditation Program (MSAP) has two parts: a written exam and a physical inspection. The written exam is onl

Next Generation Managed Services Enable Retailers to Innovate

Online competition and access to price information has been squeezing already thin retailer profit margins for some time now. Combined with the added pressures of the economic crisis, many retailers are being pushed to the edge. Sadly, familiar names, such as Circuit City, have already been pushed over the edge. To survive this crisis forward-looking retailers need to focus on: Efficiency -- making every part of the business as lean and efficient as possible, especially in the supply chain. Cost Removal -- driving out costs everywhere, especially in labor, their second biggest cost after the goods that they sell. Customer Experience -- seeking ways to differentiate an increasingly homogeneous shopping experience. Salvation in Managed Services Retailers have traditionally been very closed to the idea of managed services provided by third parties. Razor thin margins have made them very risk adverse. There is a general skepticism of service providers, large IT firms, and their unde

How to Stay Ahead of Hackers and Cybercriminals

My conversation with Jonathan Nguyen-Duy, Director of Product Management for Verizon, ended up being very thought-provoking. We were supposed to talk about a new security offering, a backbone-based solution aimed at stopping Internet-based attacks even before they hit a company's network. (I'd spoken previously to Nguyen-Duy about Verizon's risk-correlation service .) Nguyen-Duy is a fount of knowledge about the changing landscape of international cybercriminals. Verizon is expanding its denial-of-service (DOS) detection and mitigation capabilities into eight network management centers serving 24 countries with new levels of scalability -- in part because of an increase in international cybercrime, according to Nguyen-Duy. "Our customers are telling us that the frequency and complexity of DOS attacks has grown. We're now seeing cyberattacks based on social and political activism. We're also seeing less sophisticated hackers getting access to attack methodologie

Demand Fuels AT&T Managed Service Adoption in Private and Public Sectors

In the past few months, AT&T has announced increased demand for managed services on new contracts ranging from just under $5 million to more than $200 million, with companies in the private, public, and non-profit sectors. The range of both the deal size and the diverse applications indicates two key facets of managed services: its advantages truly span multiple business sectors, and organizations can deploy it by selectively out-tasking their networks. The $4.9 Million Managed Services Contract For instance, Evansville, Indiana-based Berry Plastics is consolidating a number of legacy networks into a single IP-based platform. You probably have one of the plastic products in your home that Berry Plastics manufactured. The multinational company has 68 manufacturing facilities worldwide and nearly 14,000 employees. Its $4.9 million contract with AT&T includes the creation of an IP-based virtual private network (VPN) for its 76 domestic locations. Alan Letterman, manager of IMS E

Top Six Motivations for Managed Services

What's motivating you to think about managed network services? Is it cost? If so, you'll be surprised to hear that you're somewhat behind the times. A new report cites six top reasons companies turn to managed services, with cost ranking all the way down the list at number four. According to Warren H. Williams, Vice President and Senior Program Director of IntelliCom Analytics -- a market research firm focusing on managed services, outsourcing, and other technologies -- cost was a big factor several years ago. Today's list of motivations, however, looks like this: ● Improved overall network performance ● Increased network reliability ● Increased network availability ● Reduced operations cost ● Improved network quality of service ● Reduced business risk Cost Superseded by Convergence Cost is still important, certainly, but Williams' research over the last three years reveals a growing shift in priorities. "The corporate network has become a strategic resource;

Managed Security Services Growing Among SMBs

A new report from Forrester Research on the state of IT security at small to midsize businesses (SMB) in North America and Europe predicts ongoing growth in the managed security space. In a result similar to that of enterprise respondents, SMB executives reported that the two top drivers for using managed security services is the demand for a specialized skill set that security requires (cited by 31% of the respondents) and the need to reduce costs (cited by 24%). Other reasons cited for adopting managed security services include: The need to reduce complexity (19%) The need for 24/7 security coverage (19%) The rest of the IT environment is outsourced (5%) Managed Services Tops for Filtering and Monitoring The report also revealed that the top two services SMBs ask from their managed security provider are e-mail or Web content filtering (36%) and network firewall monitoring (33%). Forrester believes that the biggest uptick in the next year, however, will come from increased use of vu