September 14, 2015

Dueling IT Alternatives: In-house vs. Outsourced

Written by Gen

keyword icon IT

Dueling IT Strategies: Competitive Edge, or Outsourced Commodity?

Find the Right Mix of In-house and Outsourced Data-Center Services

Best of Both Worlds: How to Integrate In-house and Outsourced IT Operations

Some IT operations belong in-house, while others benefit from outsource services. Here's how to determine which are which.

TL;DR: Data networks continue to expand and grow more complex, while at the same time user and customer demand for always-on/always-available data and services keeps skyrocketing. IT departments can take advantage of the cost savings, efficiency, and scalability of hosted data-center and colocation services without losing the competitive edge their data-center operations provide by selectively migrating components to the cloud, when they determine the time is right.

There was a time when all car drivers were also car mechanics. As automobiles became simpler to drive, they also became more difficult to repair. These days only a handful of non-professionals attempt to maintain and repair their own vehicles.

The don't-do-it-yourself trend has been creeping up on data centers for many years. Modern networks are becoming too difficult for anyone but dedicated service providers to keep running smoothly and efficiently. Consider the "9 Truths IT Pros Must Live By," as listed by Aaron Kelly in an August 11, 2015, article on EnterpriseTech.

  1. The network is exploding.
  2. Poor performance halts business.
  3. IT complexity is growing faster than IT teams.
  4. Downtime is not an option.
  5. Performance defines reputation.
  6. Find and fix problems before users are impacted.
  7. Unified monitoring is crucial.
  8. Automatic discovery and continuous dependency mapping saves time.
  9. Simplicity and automation accelerate time-to-value.

In that short list you find an abundance of contradictions. Data centers are more complex than ever, yet managing IT systems requires simplicity and automation. Despite the tremendous growth in the size and complexity of networks, you have to detect and respond to problems before they cause any downtime. Save time by implementing automatic discovery and continuous dependency mapping, yet where will you find the time, talent, and resources to implement such always-on monitoring?

A recent survey by IHS indicates companies intend to boost their spending in most IT categories in 2015, with the greatest increases in facility operational expenses. Source: Data Center Journal

In-house or outsource is no longer an either-or proposition

The fact is, nearly all organizations have a foot in both the in-house data center and outsourced data center worlds. The advantages of outsourcing IT services have been well publicized in recent years -- some might even say they've been overhyped: lower costs, better hardware, faster adoption of new technologies, and enhanced reliability and security.

The two primary reasons a company would choose to maintain its in-house data center are actually two sides of the same coin: focus on core competencies, and gain a strategic advantage through information technology. If you've got the facilities, equipment, applications, and talent to keep them all running smoothly, your IT operations can give you a leg up on the competition.

In a July 27, 2015, article on Forbes, CenturyLink's Esther Shein describes how some services now offer to "cloudify" an organization's data center via colocation. The company installs its own servers in the service provider's facility, and the service handles all power, cooling, physical security, and other facility management. Eventually, tenants will be able to provision more space, power, and other facility resources on demand, according to Shein. This will allow companies to move workloads back and forth between colocation and the cloud seamlessly.

As IT workloads increase, more companies turn to outside services for their data-management needs, although most data processing continues to occur in-house. Source: Uptime Institute

One of the most effective ways to transition from in-house to outsourced monitoring of your apps, databases, and servers is by using the Happy Apps service. Happy Apps lets you create checks and alerts for the web, MySQL, MongoDB, Redis, Riak, and ElasticSearch. The robust app-management solution supports SSH and agent-based connectivity to all your apps on public, private, and hybrid clouds. It offers dependency maps that help you determine the impact IT systems have on other apps.

All Happy Apps server checks are collected in easy-to-read reports that can be analyzed to identify repeating patterns and performance glitches over time. If you would like to save time, trouble, and money when managing your servers, visit the Happy Apps site for pricing information and to sign up for a free trial.