December 13, 2000, 3:57 PM — Believe it or not, enterprises still have private wide area networks, although it's
sometimes hard to ascertain that from talking to network equipment vendors. Every week
I speak with vendors who tell me about their new offerings for service providers. When
I ask about the enterprise market, they tell me that enterprises will all be moving to
public network services.
Wrong! In their rush to embrace the benefits that public networks have to offer,
some vendors have forgotten that enterprises still operate and pay for private WANs and
that they will continue to do so for many years. Enterprises are willing to use public
network services, as we have already seen with frame relay services, but a decision to
adopt such services is based on the needs of a business, not the desires of vendors or
Many years ago organizations adopted private WANs to reduce costs and improve
reliability. Now, before it can capture your business, any new service provider has to
convince you that it can run your network as well as your own organization can -- and
for less money.
Before you abandon your private WAN, evaluate the service provider. How much
experience does it have operating a multiservice public network? Scrutinize the service
provider's operational history. How long has its network been operational? How reliable
has the network been? How many customers are on the network today? And most important,
how experienced is the operations staff?
Today you can choose from literally hundreds of service options for your WAN needs,
and the number is increasing every day. In future columns I'll examine some of these
services and the technologies they're based on, and discuss how you can evaluate both
the services and the service providers.