Sprint buffs up managed data offerings

Sprint Corp. announced recently that it has revamped its managed data service offerings by simplifying the product set and pricing while extending the reach of its management capabilities.

The carrier now offers two service umbrellas, called Managed Network Service Express and MNS Custom. Both include monitoring and management of routers, switches, hubs and servers connected to frame relay, IP, ATM or private-line connections.

MNS Express is for customers with five to 50 devices who need monitoring and management of their network and devices. The service includes proactive alarms and notifications that are set up based on customer-dictated thresholds, network fault isolation and fault resolution. The carrier also will monitor the availability of key applications based on customer specifications.

For instance, if a user says its e-mail traffic should be delivered within 50 msec between Los Angeles and New York, Sprint can test that application and report if performance changes.

A key feature that Sprint offers is multicarrier network and device monitoring, says Mickey O’Dell, director of managed services, at the carrier. Sprint will manage a customer’s entire WAN, including network connections from other carriers.

“Sprint is somewhat enlightened in supporting management over multiple carrier networks,” says David Willis, a vice president at Meta Group Inc. “The management support does not include the same [service-level agreements that Sprint offers], but the management arm is closer to what users would do if managing their WAN in-house.”

Willis says Sprint is the only carrier offering management support over other providers’ connections as a standard service feature. This lets customers use Sprint as their primary data carrier, but also use other providers for backup or network diversity and yet still view all connections using one management platform, he says.

Network diversity is the “general tenor in the market today,” he says.

Sprint has simplified its pricing. While the carrier would not offer specific rates, it says customers pay a flat monthly fee that is based on the number of devices monitored. “Customers pay the same price for a Cisco 1700 router as they would for a Cisco 7500 router,” O’Dell says.

While the standard offering includes monitoring and management, O’Dell says the carrier offers a less-expensive monitoring-only version of MNS Express.

MNS Custom includes the same features as MNS Express, but users can add management features for multiprocotol support or applications such as voice over IP.

While users can customize much of their MNS Custom network setup, O’Dell says Sprint is focused on fast installations. Sprint can accomplish timely installations because users primarily will work from a “set of building blocks” that Sprint can install and set up quickly, he says.