A Day in the Life of a Managed Network Services Professional
Here in Australia, people are turning to managed services providers in ever-increasing numbers. With most businesses now supporting more hybrid ways of working, demand for managed network services is likely to grow even further in the near future.
But what exactly does a managed network services professional do all day? And why should you entrust them with your precious IT infrastructure?
Glad you asked. As Managed Network Services Team Lead at Brennan IT, my job varies from day to day. As my title suggests, I lead a team of highly skilled and technically diverse network engineers, and we take care of our clients’ networks in an outsourced capacity. This can include anything from helping with a new network infrastructure design to implementing risk mitigation measures, installing new routers and switches or providing essential maintenance and monitoring services.
Here are some of the core activities that my team and I may tackle on a daily basis:
Modern networks are complex and multi-faceted. When issues arise, it’s a managed network service professional’s job to resolve the issues – without them having any impact on the client’s business or the integrity of their overall network. Often, troubleshooting requires very in-depth technical skill in a particular area. The benefit of using a managed network services partner is that you have a large team of experts at your disposal and you aren’t limited to the skillsets that exist in your internal team.
I recently read an article that highlighted the results of a global survey by Vanson Bourne, of IT professionals from businesses with over 1,500 employees. I was surprised to learn 61% of IT decision-makers said IT downtime was an ‘accepted norm’ and employees were experiencing two IT issues per week, wasting nearly 50 hours a year.
When you engage a managed network services partner, this incredibly high level of downtime, and the degree to which employees experience IT problems, simply shouldn’t occur. It’s our job to keep everything running smoothly behind the scenes, so issues never escalate to the point where they keep people from doing their jobs.
Continual Improvement Exercises
Of course, managing a client’s network isn’t just about keeping the lights on and ensuring continual up-time. It’s also about finding ways to add value, so the network can operate faster, more efficiently, or more securely. It’s about identifying opportunities for clients to save money or time, as well as putting the network foundations in place to support any innovation they may require in the future.
For example, we recently conducted a professional services engagement for one of our consulting firm clients – to help them facilitate secure remote working in response to COVID-19. Working with their internal IT team, we migrated their existing firewalls and shifted them from local, firewall-based authentication to multifactor authentication with Azure. This move dramatically improved the organisation’s security posture and gave them peace of mind that their remote workforce could connect securely.
Similarly, the COVID-19 pandemic gave many of our customers time to pause ‘business as usual’ and make improvements to their networks. Other examples of continual improvement exercises include making core switch refreshes on customer’s on-premise networks, as well as building an entirely new data centre for a client while its employees were working from home.
Risk Mitigation Exercises
Mitigating risk is another key part of what we do on a daily basis – especially in the current climate, where large numbers of employees are accessing networks outside the office and from personal devices. We continually monitor and review our clients’ networks to ensure they offer the best possible protection, and if not, recommend steps to alleviate this.
Early last year, for instance, we were approved by a major superannuation provider to deliver a new office network security solution. The organisation was unsure exactly what they wanted – but it needed to be cost-effective, implemented rapidly, and compliant with APRA regulations. After examining the client’s needs in detail, we determined that we could save them considerable time and money by replacing some end-of-life switches and enabling an 802.iX network access control solution, as opposed to implementing a fully-fledged NAC (network access control) solution which would have taken significantly longer and cost more. As a result, the client was able to get their solution up and running as quickly and easily as possible.
Mobile Device Management
At Brennan IT, we also have a fleet of over 2,500 devices – including laptops, desktops, 2-in-1s and tablets and more – which our customers use as part of managed device services. As Brennan IT’s network specialists, my team and I are responsible for ensuring that these devices are providing the level of network connectivity and access that our customers need. This can cover everything from identity and access management to the provision of remote updates or building tools to enable internal IT teams to autonomously manage their own devices.
Leading & Mentoring My Team
Of course, managing a diverse team is also a huge part of what I do every day. I’m fortunate to have a very experienced team with niche skills across security, network design, wireless connectivity, routing, switches, and more. This means that in almost every instance, we can provide the expertise that clients need, in-house. Every member of my team also has their own development plan and is striving to achieve a particular certification or skill which is also written into their KPIs.
Client and Vendor Management
As the team lead, I also work closely with clients to understand their needs with regards to their network and the scope of any work they wish to undertake. Often, it comes down to managing expectations regarding how quickly this can be done, or what will be included. At times, our team will also partner with other third parties (e.g., a carrier provider or a specific hardware manufacturer) to deliver on a particular project. As a managed services partner, it’s our job to bring everyone together – and iron out any collaboration issues – to remove the complexity and ensure the process is as smooth and effective for our clients as possible.
At the end of the day, we’re passionate about making life easier for our clients, and ensuring their infrastructure is always performing at its best. No two clients have exactly the same set-up, nor the same challenges. So, for us, it’s about providing solutions, in accordance with industry best practices, which meet our clients’ varying requirements and their vastly different network topologies. It’s also about helping them relax with the knowledge their network infrastructure is being taken care of, 24/7/365.
Talk to the Managed Network Experts
If you want to learn more about how you can ensure network security and efficiency in your business, don’t hesitate to get in touch.