So, with this in mind, here are some questions you might ask:
- Do you provide monitoring of the MPLS network?
- Do you provide proactive monitoring?
- What proportion of issues do you expect to flag proactively (aim for 95%)
- Do you support the entire application path or just the devices you've sold?
- Can you add applications, databases, servers and LAN for example?
- How do you work with other resolver groups?
- Do you triage problems that arise?
- Can you work with other resolver groups to solve problems that may not be caused by the WAN
- Do you remain accountable back to the customer while working with such resolver groups?
- Do you provide a detailed customer monitoring portal?
- Does it include the entire application path? (as above)
- Does it show tickets raised?
- Does it allow Critical Path Monitoring, with a simplified view of entire application stacks?
- Do you provide advanced reporting?
The best MPLS providers will be easy to do business with, but not all seem to make life easy. Here are some questions you might ask them:
- What do you do to make it easy to do business with you?
- Can you show me examples of how you keep bureaucracy to a minimum?
- Can you show me how you make adding, removing and changing sites simple?
- How long does it take to request, price and order changes?
- How flexible are your terms and conditions?
- Do you offer co-terminus terms for all your sites?
- Do you ensure the whole network complies with a global standard (even if third parties are used)?
- Can you offer a complete service covering network, infrastructure and applications?
- Can you provide expert resource to help with issues that extend beyond my network?
- Will my account manager be a generalist or will he/she be highly experienced with MPLS and other WAN technologies?
When you buy a new MPLS network you're going to be relying on it (and its supplier) for a long time. It's perhaps self-evident that it's important you like your supplier and can work well with them.
Your feelings towards a potential supplier are often a reflection of the experience you have with them. Thus, you may be able to anticipate how satisfied you would be with a supplier by gauging how well their existing customers like them. If other customers like them, there’s a good chance you will too. And vice versa.
How can you do that?
There are several ways, as shown in the following questions that you might ask them. For these questions, a supplier's readiness to answer, and the speed at which they answer, can be as insightful as the answer itself.
- How many references are you able to give me? (If it's less than three, there's a problem)
- How many of them will I be able to speak to (vs email)?
- How soon can you give them to me? (If it takes more than a couple of days, there's possibly a problem)
- Do you publish a Net Promoter Score (NPS) for your networking business?
- What is your NPS? It's generally considered good to have a score over 30. Ours is over 70, by the way ;-)
Many businesses buy a managed rather than 'wires only' network, since this avoids the cost of the skilled resource required to manage the WAN and to reach every site.
For those who would otherwise prefer to manage themselves, it may still be preferable to buy a managed network from a provider who's prepared to work alongside you as you manage the rest of the estate. For example, a managed WAN provider might allow your LAN devices, servers and applications to be monitored while you manage them. In this regard, they might act as a triage point and pass non-WAN faults to your resolver group while maintaining contact and support. It can also be reassuring to have a managed service provider on hand for when intractable performance problems (or worse) arise.
It may be prudent to assess a provider's ability to manage some or all of your estate, and to inter work with your teams. You can read more about managed network providers in this post: What does it take to be the best managed network provider (and why)?
- Can you demonstrate continuous innovation and best practice in MPLS and other networks?
Other things you might consider
It's worth bearing in mind that an MPLS network is not the only option for your next WAN. You may find that a VPLS network or a hybrid network suits you better.
Have you considered whether SD WAN might benefit you?
SD WAN can be considered as an overlay, and therefore as a complement rather than an alternative to MPLS, and you may want to explore how to make sure your next WAN is SD WAN ready. You can read more in our post: SD WAN vs MPLS: SD WAN will replace MPLS (and other myths).
We hope you found that useful. If you have any questions, or would like some help considering your next WAN, we'd be happy to discuss. Our door is always open, without obligation.
Here are some next steps you might consider:
Or speak to someone
For an informal chat to explore how we could advise or help you, please request a call with Rob.