With the ongoing effort among most enterprises to squeeze cost out of IT operations, one of the single biggest chunks of the IT budget—WANs—has gotten serious scrutiny. But chances are, even after a lot of tweaking, those data networks and their voice counterparts are still costing plenty more than they should. For large and small enterprises, the complexity of the networks, the myriad choices, the rate of change, and the arcane billing methods carriers and telephone companies use make it impossible to see "the forest" when it comes to creating and maintaining optimal network designs.
But one hospital in Vermont found a way out of the optimization morass, thanks to a chance encounter with a consultant who specializes in finding and fixing inefficiencies in voice and data networks.
"We had concerns about the cost of the voice and data networks. Our contract with AT&T [Corp.] was due to expire, and we had infrastructure that had been around for years," said Robert Soucy, chief operating officer at Retreat Healthcare, in Brattleboro.
After learning about the services of MultiSystems Interconnect Inc. in a coincidental conversation between Retreats chief financial officer and MSI founder and President Joseph Passafiume, "we wanted someone to look at the voice infrastructure [before signing a new contract] and evaluate the in-state service we had switched to a year earlier as well as look at the routing and frame relay data ports," said Soucy.
Last fall, MSI, of Stow, Mass., had just put the finishing touches on a new network optimization service offering, dubbed Knight Vision, designed to provide in-depth analysis of an enterprise WAN or voice networks ability to support business-critical traffic and recover the value in the network.
"Many networks today evolved instead of being designed from the core. As they grow, they tend to become inefficient and dont behave very well," said Passafiume. "We bring analytical skills to bear and look at the infrastructure, come up with a characterization we can quantify that shows the overall activities on the network and whether [the network is optimal for business needs]."
Retreats CFO, eyeing $300,000 in annual telecommunications costs for the small hospital, saw potential in MSIs services, portions of which are paid for from the savings opportunities the consulting service uncovers.