NETWORKS UNPLUGGED: Who they gonna call?

NETWORKS UNPLUGGED: Who they gonna call?

In 1999 and 2000, some big providers of networking gear thought they could get into the game of providing outsourcing services, believing that their knowledge of the products qualified them to successfully implement applications in the field. Most notable among these entrants were Lucent and Nortel.

Thus far, the offerings of these providers have differed little from other service providers, with one exception. Going with a vendor-provided network outsourcing solution often results in product lock-in. EDS's Anthony Dunstan trumpets this as a cause to stick to non-affiliated providers. "One of the differences is that we don't sell product, and so we don't have the potential conflict of interest that one of these companies might have. When we're talking to customers, we're focusing on solutions, not on product," he says. Lucent, however, claims to be willing to supply multi-vendor solutions, and does not suffer from these limitations.

Vendor-affiliated organisations are perhaps not the biggest concerns for the big outsourcing providers, however. The telecommunications providers in particular look set to become major players in the MSP market. Cisco's Kip Cole says that with the providers having to be involved in business office connectivity and other business functions - and moving rapidly into intra and inter-company managed network services -"it's only one step away from them managing desktops as well."

Current state of outsourcing

Executives are currently outsourcing:

- maintenance/repair.

- training.

- applications development.

- consulting and re-engineering.

- mainframe data centres.

Executives are considering outsourcing:

- client/server.

- networks.

- desktop systems.

- end-user support.

- full IT outsourcing.

Source: the Outsourcing Institute.

Typical MSP service

An MSP will typically look after one or more of the following functions:

- Performance monitoring.

- Network management.

- Operational testing.

- Intrusion detection.

- VPN.

- PKI.

- Managed firewalls.

- Vulnerability scanning.

- Helpdesk.

- Storage on demand.

- Availability monitoring.

- Service-level verification.

Source: the Meta Group.

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