Author: Craig Mathias, Principal, Farpoint Group

As someone who has been working in IT for over 40 years, mobile and wireless for more than 25, and who has run a small business for that same more than 25 years, I can tell you: small businesses need exactly the same IT capabilities and facilities as larger firms. Any differences in implementation are limited to matters of scale, not essential capabilities like PCs, mobile devices, servers of various forms, Cloud services, security, remote access, and, well – everything. There’s no room for any compromise in functionality. But there is one big difference: budgets. And this one has historically been a doozy.

Many network and IT suppliers, on both the products and services sides, focus of necessity on the needs of larger organizations, and this emphasis has largely defined the core capabilities of IT and networking over the years. But given that small businesses have the same needs and that core suppliers have largely ignored this end of the market, smaller organizations have been faced with a huge conundrum, one that is just beginning to be addressed today.

Specifically: as a small business owner or operating manager (and let’s assume there is no IT department involved, as is commonly the case), should I buy “big system” solutions and just live with the complexity and high costs, or residential-class products, and live with the lack of management and limited functionality? Or do I have a better choice?

Well, yes – now you do. As I alluded above, there is a new choice that we believe is so perfect for smaller organizations that we plan on migrating to it ourselves: buying Wi-Fi solutions from a managed services provider (MSP) that can also provision services like firewall, compliance management, and unified communications. In other words – buy solutions, not boxes.

Think about this: buying big-system implementations that have all the functionality required involves significant capital expense (CapEx), including depreciation. And then there’s the operating expense involved, in the form of the expertise required to plan, install, manage, troubleshoot, remediate, and, inevitably, upgrade whatever is selected. And let’s toss the idea of residential-class products out without a further consideration beyond the fact that enterprise-grade security capabilities are simply not there.

So, the takeaway? Forget the capital expense altogether. MSP-delivered, Cloud-based solutions turn all costs into operating expense (OpEx) – and often with a bottom line that’s less than the price of the maintenance and support contract for that big-system equipment. Think Wi-Fi – and, ultimately, all of IT, as a service, and voilà – the conundrum vanishes. Costs are minimized, and all functionality, capacity, coverage, and more is, well, just there.

Really – does it get any better than that? No, I’m happy to conclude – it does not.

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