Network Subscription Models Join SaaS Apps to Meet IT Needs
by Christine Cignoli on

Subscription-based options just keep growing, as music, movies and TV, along with your business-critical SaaS apps, are all available now with various monthly payment methods. IT continues to move in this direction too, with network subscription packages the latest trend. Unlike software applications, networking still requires physical parts. But the idea of SDN and a pay-as-you-go, network as a service model is enticing to IT teams, who are getting used to opex in other tech areas. Several vendors are already offering subscription-based networking, which may include licenses for software upgrade and support across hardware platforms with various possibilities by network or location type. SD-WAN vendors are also offering the product as a service, basing subscription costs on bandwidth, number of locations, capacity levels and other factors. This development will likely have fans, though it just adds to the complexity of choices facing IT networking teams today.

You probably know by now that SD-WAN is no cure-all for the networking challenges you face. Though SD-WAN improves MPLS on its own, many in IT still really like MPLS for its stability, performance and provider responsibilities. One big challenge when switching to SD-WAN is dealing with last-mile network delivery. You may need to find a new provider for this if any of your current providers can’t help. Another challenge that comes with the SD-WAN switch is the need to fill the management and monitoring gaps that were previously filled by the MPLS provider. (We happen to know a great monitoring solution that can see into any modern network.) SD-WAN usually uses a model where both provider and customer can access and troubleshoot the network in question. It’s best to work out some of the operational issues ahead of SD-WAN adoption so you’re not surprised by the differences from MPLS.

On the topic of what you can expect when you subscribe to a technology product or service, here’s a look at what you can do to make sure provider SLAs are working for you. Not all service-level agreements are created equal—some may be detailed and actionable, while others are vague and don’t specify thresholds or penalties for the provider. Tips here include negotiating the language of the contract, and making sure it includes information about what type of reports you’ll get from the provider, and how often you’ll meet with the provider to review SLA adherence. You should also make sure an SLA specifies uptime assurances and the penalties that come along with any violations, in addition to including a description of how any escalation will work. We’d also add that providers really should provide good performance to their customers, not just uptime—but that’s usually still a longer-term goal.

Finally, on the topic of long-term goals, Cloud Technology Partners recently gathered data from workshop attendees on, essentially, how worried IT pros should be about cloud replacing their jobs. The changes that cloud computing have brought mean that many central IT jobs are affected. The big-picture advice here is that IT professionals have to be comfortable and willing to learn new skills. Consider the overall team you’re on and the business you’re supporting, and get good at what’s needed for the bottom line (there’s a handy chart in the post showing just some of the 1,000-plus AWS features you can learn about). Pick a few and learn those really well. If you’re a developer, you should be comfortable with full stack development. And if not, learn about code and why it matters, since coding is the base of all these cloud platforms. It’s a brave new world for IT, but we know you can tackle it with aplomb.

Filed Under: cloud computing, Networking Technology

Tags: cloud services SLA , SD WAN monitoring , SLA