Hands-Free Management

An Easy Way to Save Money, and Get Peace of Mind

It happens: suddenly your network is down. You can't send messages, your customers can't reach you, and business stops.

Proactive and responsive network management can prevent this. But for many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), network management is low on the priority list. "Most shops just don't seem to get around to it," says Shawn Morland of Navakai, Inc., a Cisco Premier Certified Partner.

Filling the Management Void

How can you manage your network? You could call for help as problems arise, but disruptions are likely to recur and be costly. You could buy and install a network management system, and hire IT staff with the appropriate skills to manage it. Or you can take the hands-free approach: managed services.

Qualified value-added resellers and service providers offer services that take the network management responsibility off your hands. You avoid staffing and equipment costs, gain a trusted technology adviser, and receive continuous network monitoring and maintenance.

"We...proactively monitor and address issues before our customers even notice them," says Sam Wong of Network Architects, Inc., a Cisco Premier Certified Partner.

How a Managed Service Works:

  • Managed services providers (MSPs) such as Navakai and Network Architects install network management software on your network and monitor it around the clock.
  • The software tracks key performance indicators such as CPU, memory, and bandwidth utilization. It automatically examines anomalies and sends alerts to the MSP and to you.
  • The MSP can resolve network problems remotely and provide reports on network operation.

An example of the software used by MSPs is the Cisco Monitor Director solution. Designed specifically for SMBs, it can manage a wide range of networked devices, including devices from multiple vendors. It offers several strategic benefits:

  • It is highly efficient at identifying potential problems, helping protect you against lost productivity and reduced customer confidence.
  • It lets your staff take the network for granted and focus on doing business.
  • It costs less than other maintenance alternatives.

Why Businesses Sign Up:

  • Cost savings. Morland calculates that a business with 25 network users and a single server will pay $750 per month for Cisco Monitor Director services. That's about 78 percent less than the US$3300-$3500 monthly salary that Morland estimates would be needed for a new hire to manage the network. Added savings come because network management stations, which typically cost US$6000-7000 each, are no longer needed. Navakai charges $250 to assess the network and $250 to install and set up the software agent.
  • Efficiency. Some larger SMBs with IT staffs are also using managed services, reports Morland, because of the automated features, efficiency, and reporting capabilities. Cisco Monitor Director can manage a variety of Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) and IP addressable devices.
  • Less downtime. The MSP is automatically paged within three minutes of an alert describing a potential problem that could affect the network. Service is provided remotely; there is no wait for a technician to travel to the site. Bottom line: The service prevents problems, or gets them solved quickly, reducing disruptions and delays.
  • Hands-free management. SMBs can focus their energy on the core business instead of network management. The MSP becomes a trusted adviser about networked applications and technologies that can help the SMB's business.
  • Peace of mind. Columbine Capital, a 10-employee investment company, had planned to buy monitoring software and manage the network themselves. Then they looked at Cisco Monitor Director services. "We thought it would be a better option," says Columbine's IT manager, Brian Jennison. "It's a peace of mind thing."

"Many of our managed services customers had chronic problems in their networksóbandwidth issues, poor cabling, device failure, overworked devices," says Morland. "As soon as we installed the Cisco Monitor Director software, we got alerts that let us resolve issues before they became problems."

The hands-free management approach helps assure cost-effective peace of mind.

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