Types of Vendors and Providers

Besides the traditional Internet service providers offering Category 1 Internet access and WAN service, there are several different types of companies you may end up working with depending on the type of upgrade project you are pursuing.

Type of Company Description Possible Uses
Fiber construction company Companies that specialize in the design, engineering, construction, and maintenance of outside plant fiber.
Data and telephony (low voltage) cabling contractors Companies that specialize in the design, engineering, construction, and maintenance of low voltage cabling systems. Note that some traditional high voltage electricians and electrical contractors may also do low voltage data cabling.
  • Category 2 structured cabling
Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Companies that manufacturer network equipment such as Aerohive, HP, or Cisco
  • You may work with their sales department when planning an upgrade and evaluating your options. Some OEM’s allow you to purchase directly from them, but typically you purchase from a reseller.
Value Added Reseller (VAR) Companies such as CDW that sell equipment from one or more OEMs. They also typically add value to the sale by offering design, configuration, implementation, or maintenance services, as needed.
Managed Service Provider (MSP) A company that can operate and maintain networking equipment for you. Sometimes they own the equipment and pass the cost on to you through a recurring fee. Other times they may be used for additional technical support on existing equipment. Typically, a district enters into a contract with an MSP for a certain time period and pay the MSP a set fee for their services.

Keep in mind that some vendors only offer equipment from a certain set of manufacturers, so if you are keenly interested in a certain manufacturer’s solution you may have to shop around. Additionally, the line has become blurred between VARs and MSPs lately as many VARs are now offering managed services. Therefore it’s important to have conversations with prospective vendors about all their offerings.