For businesses looking to invest in a new Wi-Fi network, there are more options today than ever before. Managed and hosted off-site services are growing in both popularity and security. In fact, we've recently been assisting a California college campus migrate more than 300 access points to wireless, with offsite hosting.
The result has been a faster, better, more reliable network than when they were managing it in-house.
Is a managed WiFi service right for your business? It mostly boils down to the ongoing maintenance costs, as well as how much direct control you want over your network. Let's break down the major pros and cons of both on-site and off-site options, to see which looks best for your firm when you're upgrading to wireless.
Obviously, the biggest advantage to having in-house IT support is the extra control it affords. While quality WiFi hosting services offer near-instant support, you're still going to generally get faster response rates when you have your own team on the project.
Further, in the long run, keeping your network in-house is the cheaper option as long as nothing goes seriously wrong. If you have in-house networking staff already who are familiar with modern WiFi technologies, your extra costs will mostly revolve around hardware and installation.
On the other hand, plenty of businesses today -especially smaller firms- simply don't have the sort of in-house expertise necessary to run a modern WiFi network. A single round of hiring will often wipe out the cost advantages of in-house administration for years to come.
Plus, that's not considering potential costs due to human error or under-experienced staff. A network put together by inexperienced staff will tend to have more points of failure. If your staff isn't fully qualified, hardware problems and replacement costs can become far more expensive than expected.
The biggest advantage to using a hosted service like ADTRAN's ProServices system is reliability. With off-site hosting and management, you get contractually guaranteed 99.99% uptime on your network. That means less than one hour downtime per year, and that's an assurance very few in-house teams can offer.
As part of this, you're getting full 24/7/365 live proactive monitoring of your system, with a full team of network specialists all helping keep your network live and running smoothly.
It also centralizes and standardizes your expenses. No matter what support plan you end up choosing, you get one single bill for hardware, maintenance, support, and management.
But, as we said above, you will likely be paying more for this assurance over time, when compared to the costs associated with keeping everything in-house. In effect, off-site network management is something like an insurance policy. You're paying a little extra to get a quality of service that would be a lot more expensive to obtain through direct hiring.
As with all service providers, there's also always the chance of something major going wrong that takes out a lot of businesses at once, slowing your own response times. However, that danger can be minimized through smart shopping. Major vendors like ADTRAN can afford to invest in the redundant infrastructure necessary to prevent serious system-wide problems from affecting clients.
Managed WiFi - The Right Choice For More Businesses
In short, the decision mostly depends on how qualified your on-site staff is. If you have staff who are able to install and maintain a modern WiFi network, then you'll ultimately get more control with lower prices by keeping your staff in-house.
On the other hand, if you lack this expertise, a hosted wireless service will give you Enterprise-level networking at a fair, constant price. These can guarantee any business can utilized the same virtualized networking that only large businesses could previously afford!
For more information on what a wireless network can do for you, just drop us a line for a free upgrade consultation!