Because the world of IT is so fast paced, with ever evolving technologies and new services and service providers coming onto the market at an alarming rate, it can be difficult as an IT manager to know what’s the right thing to do for your business!
You don’t want to make the wrong decision, a decision that has a negative impact on your organisation’s needs, but what does the right decision look like when there’s so many things to consider?
To assist with this dilemma, I’ve given you (in previous posts) some of the key things to consider when evaluating a service provider and in particular when evaluating Wide Area Networks services for the connectivity or your stores.
In this post, I want to give you some more tips and insider knowledge on how to evaluate network services to find the most appropriate solution for your business.
One of the most common questions we’re asked is…
“Doesn’t the cheap nature and therefore cost savings of a VPN solution outweigh the risk of security threats?”
The simple answer to this is… NO!
Although a VPN network is usually cheaper than an MPLS network (but not always the case with our Retail MPLS Network), there are other cost considerations that means a VPN network is often more expensive.
PCI DSS compliance dictates that each network entry point is “Pen. Tested” (Penetration Tested) each year to assess the posture of your network and its potential vulnerability to attack.
If you multiply the number of stores you have by the current Pen. Test fee (£1000/ year at time of writing this document), and times this by the number of branches for the whole year, it’s highly probable that these additional costs will far exceed the cost of a more secure MPLS deployment. This is not including the security vulnerability scanning that also needs to be undertaken each quarter on every security device.
In addition to those costs, there’s also a higher risk of failing your Pen. Test audit and potentially incurring huge fines for insufficiently protecting the payment data of your customers.
This doesn’t take into account brand damage and other less tangible factors, which only you can put a value on to your business. So don’t just look at the basic price of a VPN service when comparing this to an MPLS service, but as always in our world, make sure you look at the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) before you make the wrong decision. With the most appropriate wide area network service in place, you then have to consider…
What’s the most appropriate CPE (Customer Premise Equipment) for your needs?
There’s really only one consideration to consider when making a CPE decision and this is to do with features and functionality.
Many service providers will try and sell you high end CPE solutions when it’s not always 100% necessary. You may end up paying for features that you don’t need and won’t use, so don’t think you always need the top of the range hardware with all the bells and whistles.
Instead think about what are the most important capabilities you need over and above basic connectivity, for example…
WLAN capability is a key consideration today when choosing your branch CPE. Mobility “Services” are becoming very popular with retail organisations.
The ability to get secure visibility of your customers mobile devices, and be able to push offers and point of sale incentives, in real time, to your store visitors can:
• Increase the customer experience to create differentiatior
• Improve customer satisfaction and retention
• Grow sales order value
These types of services may therefore demand a more sophisticated appliance and should be considered when making your investment decisions to help protect your investment.
With your network in place and terminated on the most appropriate CPE for your needs, the last consideration I want to address in this post is that of the ongoing support of your business-critical service.
Another Frequently Asked Question we get is…
"Do I need Proactive Monitoring or can I simply
report faults as they occur?"
To maximise network uptime and fast fault resolution, you should be looking for a service provider who is actively monitoring your network for you. You are paying for a service, you shouldn’t have to do this yourself.
There are 2 main benefits from proactive monitoring:
The obvious one is the fact that you get a much faster fault response and resolution time and you don’t waste your time reporting false positives.
A good monitoring platform will give a high-level overview of all connectivity and routing equipment across your retail estate in real time. If there are any issues, a real-time traffic monitor will change its state and alert engineers.
Often when broadband connectivity goes down, it is only a short “Bounce” of the connection and then connectivity is restored. You should be looking for a company that will monitor the connection, looking for prolonged issues or recurring issues and act accordingly.
This can save you time and ensure network availability is maximised.
At Blaze Networks, our engineers proactively call your store in the event of a properly identified issue and troubleshoot the connection, eliminating the need for your staff to do fault reporting!
Our Networks Operations Centre (NOC) has direct access to the Openreach WLR3 engineering platform allowing our engineers to do line and broadband tests whilst on the phone with your retail location.
In addition to the engineer contacting the store, email alerts are sent to appointed people in your retail organisation so you are aware of an issue at any given location in real time.
Our customers have full access to our monitoring platform for full network visibility, ticket updates and to run appropriate reports. You can run historical or real-time reports on equipment and bandwidth utilisation.
This means you can ensure that Service Level Agreements and Key Performance Indicators are achieved by Blaze Networks and that’s what you should be looking for!
We believe in complete visibility of your retail MPLS network investments and through proactive support and monitoring we reduce internal IT administration and increase your uptime across your retail estate.
As I said at the beginning of the post, it can be challenging making the right decision for your business, but if you use the tips I’ve given in this and previous posts, you’ll find making the a decision that provides the best solution for your business will be easier.
For a full list of FAQs and “Should Ask Questions”, that’s those questions that aren’t so obvious, but will make a huge difference to the outcome you achieve, you can download our full Buyer’s Guide at the link below.
There’s no email required and it’s ABSOLUTELY FREE- IMMEDIATE DOWNLOAD
Find out how Blaze Networks can help improve your network and your business