Evaluating Networking Vendors

By Ryan Ayers
Updated: August 22, 2011

If your company is in the process of finding a new networking vendor (or is outsourcing these activities for the first time) it can seem that pricing and options span an unfathomably wide range. Choosing the right networking partner for your business is not as difficult as it may seem at first once you break the challenge into smaller pieces and assess the qualities that are most important to your business. Finding the best networking vendor to help your business best utilize your IT resources and efforts can be a monumental step in making your business run more efficiently and cost effectively.

How to Compare Networking Vendors

Networking vendors are structured like most other business service providers in that they offer a variety of service and quality levels, varied technical and product specifications, and a range of services that generally fall within set parameters. Finding the right vendor for your business’ individual needs is usually a matter of separating out and defining the most important attributes for your business.

Different Aspects of Networking Vendors:

  • Price Driven Services
  • Higher Service Levels
  • Features and Adaptability

Price Driven Networking Services

As with any other service of nearly any kind, there are many networking service providers that focus primarily on pricing in their service packages. These services provide some form of networking and IT support for your business at lower prices than much of the competition. While these services often lack adaptability and feature-laden options for their packages, they do provide a networking solution that can be extremely cost effective. If your business has decided that budgetary restrictions are your main focus in choosing a network vendor, you should be able to easily find many that fit the bill.

Service Quality Driven Networking Providers

There is also a segment of the networking services community that is priced in a higher bracket, but is intrinsically more focused on the quality of both their service (higher uptime percentages, etc.) and the quality and responsiveness of their customer service. These vendors are often utilized by businesses that need a high quality and reliable network partner, but have very little in the way of in-house IT resources. While pricing tends to be markedly higher for this class of vendor, the service quality and hand-holding that comes along with it is well worth the expense for many businesses.

Networking Vendors Focused on Adaptability and Features

Also like many other business class services, there is a large (and growing) segment of network partners that offer their customers a variety of options and features with an understanding that services may need to adapt and change as your business evolves. The main benefit of these service plans is that your company is not locked into a fixed plan in which you incur fees for each modification and/or change to your existing agreement. For businesses that rapidly evolve, these plans can be the most cost effective and manageable option.

The specifics in the pricing, service, and options for most networking vendors are some form of a combination between all of these categories. It will become easier for your business to separate and evaluate your potential networking solutions partners once you define their focus and strengths and find the vendors that specialize in the attributes most beneficial to your company.

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