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Single Supplier Strategy in the WAN?

Single Supplier Strategy in the WAN?

Most considered the perceived wisdom of a single supplier strategy; increased commercial leverage, simplified commercial and management structures, greater “clout” with a supplier etc.; if this is to be believed however, why are complaints about single Service Provider (SP) contracts for global services so common?

Firstly we have to examine how these services are provided; depending upon how distributed your sphere of operation actually is, will decide what type of last “mile” hand-off is required to complete the service connection.  The most simple approach is where a provider has in-country capability and the connection between your location and the nearest point of presence is a plain old private circuit.  Where this is not possible (for local regulatory or commercial reasons),  network to network interfaces (NNI) are usually deployed, although more complex technically they are well understood and should not present undue problems when executed between competent SPs, (although they can take longer to fix if they go wrong due to the greater complexity).  So technology aside, most complaints we hear concern change management, lead times can often be measured in months where multiple SP’s comprise the delivery chain.

So how do you decide which of the alternatives (which include single SP, multiple SPs with NNIs, or segmentation of the network to multiple SPs through your own networks) are right for your particular application?

There is no single “right answer” but fortunately there is a process which will correctly define your requirements and also the service management capabilities of your own organisation and also those of the constituent SPs, in broad terms the optimum functional solution for a region is the one that maximises management control and minimises service and commercial complexity.

Of course performance, SLAs, financial stability and all the other usual factors need to be considered, but the key point here is that although a single commercial interface does not always (or even often) equal a single, integrated service, there are other available models that can achieve your service management objectives whilst also maximising control and use of in-house expertise.