I’m calling it – this will be the year of the network. Not that the network hasn’t always been important, because of course it has. But most of the attention has been on servers and PCs. Now it’s time for infrastructure to shine.
Network management will “rise to the level of fine art”, predicts global service provider Insight. And with that trend comes plenty of opportunity for managed service providers to expand and enhance the network services they offer.
Here are eight network secrets every MSP should know.
- Your clients think you’re actively managing network infrastructure. You’re managing PCs and servers – that’s the network, right? You’re the only one who knows that you can’t actually see what’s happening with your clients’ routers, switches and firewalls. That’s a vulnerability, but also a market opportunity.
- In-house network administrators need your help. Nearly one third of corporate network admins lack high confidence in their networks. They’re working overtime yet struggling to keep up with best practices. More than half, for example, don’t fully know how their network is configured. The upshot? There’s plenty of opportunity for MSPs to add real value at the network level.
- Your technicians are managing more devices than ever. In 2014, according to research from Computer Economics, the median number of devices managed by each network engineer was 37. In 2015, that number climbed to 59 – an increase of 60% in one year. As smartphones, wearables and IoT devices proliferate, the ratio of devices to engineers will only continue to rise. Automation will become increasingly important for handling the workload.
- MSPs commonly waste thousands of dollars each month because of poor network documentation. Estimates peg the amount of time wasted due to lack of helpful documentation to be as much as 30% of working hours. That’s up to a third of each day that your technicians might be scrambling to recreate a topology map, figure out a device configuration or find a password. Imagine how quickly your business could grow if you could recapture that time for productive tasks.
- Upwards of 80% of MSPs put their clients’ networks at risk with insecure password management. “They store client passwords on Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, homegrown database solutions and unprotected fields in their CRM or PSA system,” says Passportal CEO Colin Knox. “With just one password security breach, a disgruntled employee can ruin an MSP’s reputation and put the business in jeopardy with serious legal issues.”
- Profitable MSPs rely on automation and system integration to reduce ticket counts and scale effectively. Studies show that service providers running business systems such as PSA (professional services automation) and RMM (remote monitoring and management) tools command higher rates, renew more clients, spend less time on data management and are overall more profitable than companies without automation support.
- Today’s networks change too quickly and frequently for static network maps to be of any use. Real-time topology is a must for modern network management. Not snapshots. Not Visio diagrams drawn six months ago. Real-time maps, updated on the fly as things change. Then when something happens, all you do is pull up the map to quickly orient yourself on the current setup.
- True network operations is a discipline with seven components. Getting an alert when a router goes down? Not enough. Today’s networks demand more, from real-time awareness to integrated workflows. Provide all seven components and you’ll have a leg up on your service provider peers, because here’s the biggest secret of all: Most MSPs aren’t yet providing comprehensive network services. (See secret #1.)
This will be the year of the network. Are you ready to take advantage of it?