Viatel, the business communications provider, says that according to a survey they conducted while 93 percent of medium sized UK organisations are currently using a VPN, two thirds are reliant on solutions that are more than two years old, and therefore based on legacy technology such as first generation DSL and leased lines. When asked about upgrading, 58 percent of respondents cited greater flexibility as the biggest driver, while six in ten were concerned about the associated cost and management overheads.
The widespread availability of next generation technologies like ADSL 2+ and Ethernet in the First Mile is driving down the cost of these services so businesses can benefit from significant increases over existing bandwidth with no increase in price. With the ability to upgrade to FTTC and FTTP as they become more widely available too, Viatel notes that organisations that implement an IP VPN would quickly see the benefits in terms of increased network performance and improved staff efficiency.
While flexibility was the most important reason for upgrading to a new IP VPN, 41 percent also stated that increasing bandwidth required for existing applications was a key factor.
“Clearly most UK businesses are currently making do with their existing VPN solutions. These solutions may not be delivering the speeds necessary to support an increasing number of IP-based business-critical applications, to give companies the flexibility to grow and change or allow employees to work from home,” said Michael Davies, head of product management at Viatel. “Businesses are often restricted because they are reliant on expensive solutions like leased lines, or consumer packages that simply share available bandwidth between all subscribers, resulting in potential loss of connectivity and slow download speeds. Medium sized businesses need flexible, cost effective bandwidth solutions that will ensure continuous uptime even during peak hours.”
Just 30 percent of businesses cited cost savings as a reason to upgrade, but 60 percent were concerned about the potential financial impact such a decision might have. Viatel notes that reliance on legacy technologies can actually be more expensive in the long run as next generation access technologies cost less to run and offer increased performance.
To get the best return on investment, Viatel advises businesses to look for a supplier that is highly responsive to the needs of medium sized organisations to ensure they get a bespoke solution that specifically meet their individual requirements, and that will also scale to meet future needs. For example, some organisations will require access to applications like CRM, order management and billing, whereas others will want to run voice and video over the network, with the option to add extra remote sites.
Equally, with a dedicated solution that has been designed with the individual organisation in mind, businesses will not have to worry about further stretching their IT teams with additional management burdens – a concern for 59 percent of respondents.
“Many mid-sized organisations are tempted to go with big-brand names or the cheapest option, but the real consideration should be: will this VPN meet my individual company’s needs?” continued Davies. “If the answer is yes, then the solution should tie in seamlessly with the organisation’s existing communications and IT infrastructure, requiring minimal management as compared to a solution that has to be forced to fit the business’ individual requirements.”