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Corporate networks are shifting away from MPLS and to the public internet for compelling reasons. Internet service is universally available, and there are thousands of local suppliers around the world. There is a wide range of access options, all of which connect to the same global fabric. Because internet service providers (ISPs) both cooperate and compete, public business internet services are both flexible and attractively priced.
Figure 1 shows how enterprises are changing the way they model their corporate networks. Up until about 2015, it was normal to link sites to data centers with MPLS and private IP. That shifted to a mix of private IP/internet hybrid networks, connecting to private/public hybrid clouds. Today, corporate networks are hosted on the public internet managed with SD-WAN, and corporate networks continue to expand their use of cloud services.
Figure 1: Corporate networks are re-homing from private IP to predominantly internet services.
Select the right network partner for your business strategy
When enterprises shift to internet and broadband, they can be pulled into buying services from more and more individual ISPs. A company’s network director will find every ISP and every market is different. In one country, internet is best handled by an incumbent carrier’s xDSL and private circuits. In a second, cable broadband is superior but has limited availability. In a third country, a superior fiber specialist operates in urban pockets. In a fourth, fixed wireless is the best choice. The enterprise network director must make top-two selections for each market, to meet the enterprise’s needs for carrier and route diversity.
If a business decides to handle its own ISP procurement, it must recruit, review, negotiate, and enforce many contracts. Each partner has its own contract language – different terms of service, billing cycles, service guarantees, and limitations. Sometimes the contract language is literally in a different language.
What is more, ISP partners each have different service wraps. Each ISP handles monitoring and trouble reporting differently. Each has its own contacts and escalation process. Some will provide live support; others use online forms; others might offer customer self-service through an automated portal. It is time consuming and difficult for an enterprise to stay organized when dealing with many ISPs.
Figure 2 shows examples of some policies particular ISPs might have about their connections and internet performance. All ISPs have to manage traffic. While some ISPs are a light touch in traffic management, others are proactive managers of capacity that are strict about their service limits.
Figure 2: Individual ISP access policies and their possible effects
Service relationships are complicated, and each ISP partnership is different. For this reason, it makes sense to partner with an expert-managed network services provider. A partner can bring order and standardization to the global internet access experience. Expert managed services partners have practical working experience and relationships with large numbers of national ISP. They understand the national legal and contract environments, and the quirks of their individual ISP service wraps. They know how best to interact with each ISP. A managed network services partner can draw on its operating history with each ISPs to help steer enterprises toward services with a strong track record, and away from those that may look good on paper but have a history of issues.
Considerations when selecting the right strategy
Enterprises are transitioning sites from private IP to enterprise internet. Businesses are exchanging MPLS VPNs for internet VPNs. Enterprises find that they can get more diverse access options, greater flexibility, and higher capacity at a lower price when they swap MPLS-based services for secure IP VPNs over the public internet.
Network transformation supports the internet migration. New networking and security platforms, including those released as SD-WAN and SASE, make it easier to pull together a diverse range of internet access options, to operate across these services reliably and securely.
Managing ISPs in-house is resource intensive. National ISPs are diverse. Handling contracts, billing, and support is time consuming. Enterprises find that dealing with individual ISPs themselves is not worth the effort. Instead, a global managed service provider can roll up a single service experience with end-to-end visibility, presentation, and management over a single pane of glass.
Partners’ ISP relationships matter. A managed services provider that claims to have hundreds of ISP partners may sound appealing. But a closer assessment is needed to understand if the provider has direct relationship with the individual ISPs. Managed services providers with indirect relationships tend to have less control and insight to national services. A provider with many direct ISP partners offers more choice, better visibility, and has the partner contracts and historical track records of each ISP in hand to recommend internet access that is the best fit for each location.
The complete white paper: “Now is the time to make the move to the internet: The compelling case for the business executive” is now available. It includes a seven-step checklist to help your business plan a successful migration to Internet connectivity. To register and download your own copy of the white paper, please click here .
Omdia is a leading research and advisory group focused on the technology industry. With clients operating in over 120 countries, Omdia provides market-critical data, analysis, advice and custom consulting.More articles by Omdia