Jun 18 2021

Networking as a Service: How Small Businesses Can Benefit

A well-implemented NaaS setup can help businesses focus on the bigger picture while leaving the more complex elements in capable hands.

For many small businesses, managing a network can be a time-consuming process. The growing complexity of networks, coupled with increasingly specialized network management, has created challenges for organizations that are used to relying on jack-of-all-trades employees to solve network problems.

It’s a challenge that can have costly consequences should an issue occur. One Gartner estimate of network downtime puts the average cost of a shuttered network at $5,600 per minute — or as much as $300,000 per hour. While that may differ based on the size and complexity of your business, it nonetheless underlines the potential scope of the problem. Functionally, if your internal network crashes, the entire business is offline.

As a result, there has been a growing interest in Networking as a Service (NaaS), which offloads the hard work of managing a network infrastructure onto an external party that can tackle the more specialized work of keeping systems online. This cloud networking approach, generally offered by companies such as Cisco Meraki and Aruba, can help to manage the knottier parts of networking for those who lack specialization.

The Benefits of NaaS Solutions

Why would your business want something like this? Compare it to using culinary skills in the kitchen: Preparing a complex dish often involves several tasks, and some of those require a higher level of skill than others. For example, stirring a pan is a simple manual task, but failing to do so could ruin the sauce. If you’re trying to manage other, more important parts of the meal, you might bring in the reserves to help while you do more demanding prep work.

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In the same way, network management comes with a lot of moving parts that require a close eye. But with tight budgets and small departments, IT pros might want to hand off those smaller, yet mission-critical, tasks to others who may be more skilled with certain details.

One problem: As the demand for IT professionals increases, there may not be enough qualified networking professionals to meet the demand.

And as easy to use as a solution like Cisco Meraki might be, if your small business can’t meet the admittedly high baseline for a networking management discipline, it doesn’t matter how easy a technology is to manage — it can still become a burden.

But by having an external party manage your systems through a NaaS setup, your IT professionals remain open for higher-level management tasks.

The NaaS Unsung Hero: Managed Technical Support

Not every aspect of NaaS relies on hardware or software solutions.

Part of network management is incident resolution, and you might need to manage an issue with a provider such as Cisco — which definitely has an element of stirring sauce in a pan.

For this issue, CDW Technology Support (CTS), one of the CDW Amplified™ Services, can help make the process easier and less painful to manage.

MORE FROM BIZTECH: What small businesses need to ask when choosing a cloud provider.

For example, the Cisco CTS focuses on managing technical support needs as they come in, leaning on CDW’s in-depth relationship with Cisco to help manage complexities that may emerge when a problem with the network arises.

If you need to go to Cisco, we can act as a liaison to streamlines that process, far more easily than you would be able to do on your own.

The Downtime Risks for Small Businesses

Referring again to downtime, you might have looked at the Gartner statistic above and thought that it did not match the scale of your small business. Your organization may not make anything close to $5,600 per minute, which equates to nearly $3 billion per year — so how are you supposed to take that statistic seriously?

If anything, it highlights the challenge that small businesses face when it comes to networking. Downtime critically impacts small businesses at an even deeper level than large ones. If you’re only dealing with a handful of customers per day, every customer matters more, and even a short amount of downtime can have a critical effect.

With that in mind, it becomes increasingly clear why a small business might want to hand the network management reins to a trusted partner, whether through the cloud or over the phone. NaaS makes the hard parts of network management less painful and frustrating, so you can focus on the things that will help push your business forward.

 This article is part of BizTech's AgilITy blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #SmallBizIT hashtag.

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