Most companies have built their traditional network architecture in a piecemeal approach over the years, starting at the corporate office and then expanding to the branch office. Network managers selected the most reliable and most cost-effective internet connections possible for each location. This approach worked well when teams were small and internet speeds were ‘good enough’ to connect back to the corporate network on occasion. However, with the heavy adoption of cloud-based applications and services, such as Salesforce, Azure, and voice and video applications, these conventional network services coupled with ‘business-grade broadband’ can no longer keep pace. Today’s digital enterprises require reliable connectivity and network services that meet their security requirements for the hybrid cloud. But for teams already slammed with other priorities, how do SMBs find the right mix of network services that can grow with them?
A new way forward
It starts with an assessment of your current needs and building a strategy around modernizing your network environment in a sustainable way. Then, organizations should evaluate things like bandwidth consumption, performance requirements, resiliency needs, and map out applications running at each site. To get there, let’s explore the most critical questions to ask service providers and partners when evaluating possible network services and making a plan for a more modern network.
- What are my dedicated internet options? Connecting your workforce to the applications and computing resources they need is critical. It’s essential to get the right amount of bandwidth for every branch office or remote location to ensure reliable application performance, all while staying within budget. The right partner should provide encrypted, flexible connectivity options, including Ethernet, cable, fiber, DSL, 4G LTE or satellite – all with guaranteed bandwidth backed leading service level agreements.
- What’s best for primary and secondary connections? Ensuring network uptime and reliability means that organizations need the best available broadband connection at each location. Adding WAN failover protection with a secondary circuit provides seamless redundancy. Depending on the business needs, cable internet is often a solid choice for a high-speed backup internet solution or a reliable primary connection. For single-site locations, remote offices, or non-critical traffic, DSL lines may be the best choice as a primary connection. Or, DSL can serve as a reliable failover option for primarily dedicated internet or private line connection. The right combination of services can make your business more competitive with always-on connectivity. Finding the right partner that offers services to meet all needs is valuable so teams can spend more time on strategic objectives, instead of juggling multiple vendors.
- When are private line networks best? Many industries like finance, government, or healthcare are subject to an increasingly complex set of compliance rules and security requirements. For these verticals, using scalable private networking at some level is a must. Adding MPLS capabilities delivers secure, private multi-site communications to keep data segmented from general traffic and secure. MPLS is a technique that can deliver IP VPNs, Ethernet, and more. Because it’s more expensive than other circuit links, providers should help map out a plan to use it at an optimal level, in addition to using less expensive connections when appropriate.
- What about multi-site deployments? If your business operates multiple branch offices, such as a multi-site retail operation, for example, each location requires fast, reliable, and cost-effective internet service. Provisioning broadband for numerous locations across the country can get complicated quickly when working with local ISPs. A managed broadband service can help streamline this process by handling the sourcing, provisioning, management of underlying vendors and support of broadband connectivity at each location. Look for providers with a solid reputation for consolidating installation, and providing billing, account. and technical support. Cloud-managed platforms that are ISP agnostic and support wired and wireless connections, such as fiber, DSL, cable, 3G, or 4G LTE for hybrid deployments, provide the highest level of flexibility. With these capabilities organizations can select the best service in every location, bringing down costs and improving WAN diversity.
- How can direct cloud connections help? Cloud connection services provide links directly to key cloud service providers to ensure consistent performance and high-security data protection across a variety of business-critical applications. If your organization is relying heavily on a cloud service provider such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud, a direct cloud connection can transfer essential data with constant latency on a secure network to these services.
It’s your move
As businesses continue to embrace cloud-based services, broadband connections and network services have become more critical than ever. For organizations with multi-site operations and dispersed networks, managing regionalized broadband providers can be tedious and frustrating. Accessing bandwidth needs, managing installations, integrating them into your current system, and dealing with multiple account managers is more than a full-time job. If you want help managing these tasks and building a strategy around modernizing your network, talk to CTG. We can help sort through the clutter to find the optimal network services for your company. Let’s get started!