Making Infrastructure Outsourcing Work for the Enterprise
Article by Sunil Gupta
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IT infrastructure outsourcing has proven to be a controversial issue around the world. Part of the reason, of course, is its proven worth as both a cost-effective and highly efficient enterprise data solution.
What many people might not realize, however, is that outsourcing is not a new phenomenon. As far back as 1990, companies like IBM and Unisys were offering full offload services in which enterprises could lease not only IT infrastructure but the personnel to run it. Over the years, the industry has grown to embrace everything from simple third-party co-location services to various utility computing models in which resources are made available on a usage basis.
In the cloud, of course, outsourcing is kicked up to an entirely new level. According to Information Services Group (ISG), which monitors the outsourcing industry, the cloud has effectively tripled the number of outsourcing contracts around the world over the past year. Much of this activity comes from large enterprises who are finding that outside resources are both cheaper and more reliable than the vast internal infrastructure that has evolved over the years.
One of the chief advantages of infrastructure outsourcing is that it allows organizations to concentrate their available resources on their primary function rather than integrating and maintaining computer technology. This is primarily beneficial to non-computer-oriented industries like manufacturing and automotive, which often see significant portions of the revenues devoted to building and manning in-house infrastructure, But even companies that specialize in the service industry are finding it both easier and cheaper to outsource their own infrastructure in order to focus on their own bottom lines.
The decision to outsource, though, is not an easy one. Business leaders should understand that outsourcing is one part of an overall organizational transformation driven by a mix of new technologies, changing work environments and an increasingly competitive global economy. The challenge, then, is to use outsourcing to its fullest advantage in order to drive the transition to the new dynamic data environment.
One way to do this is to partner with an outsourcing specialist who has a clear understanding of both the technology and performance requirements on the user end, as well as the ability to provide dynamic support across multiple platforms and operating environments. In this capacity, the provider needs to provide exceptional guidance in the deployment, monitoring and management of all facets of the IT infrastructure, including security, while maintaining granular knowledge of how operating systems, applications and other elements higher up the stack interact with the hosted infrastructure.
In addition, enterprise executives should avoid the mistake of thinking that outsourcing eliminates the need to worry about IT infrastructure entirely. Even those who fully outsource all of their IT needs − and there is a growing number of organizations doing just that − need to retain some level of infrastructure expertise in-house, if only to provide a reliable means of determining whether service levels and performance criteria are being met.
One thing is certain, however: IT outsourcing has proven itself as an effective means to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing data universe. As data needs continue to evolve at a rapid pace, many organizations are finding they have an easier time keeping up with the changes by exchanging rigid legacy environments for highly dynamic outsourced infrastructure.