In the past, the only way to upgrade your IT services infrastructure was to purchase your own network hardware and software, house it in your office somewhere, and hire some expensive IT services specialist(s) to run it.
I can’t tell you how many times we see network servers running in closets and administered by a payroll clerk or someone that has a non-IT primary job and their “management” of the system usually wound up being limited to running data backups while everything else was ignored.
You are running backups and taking them off-site, right? Even if you do have an IT person, what do you do when that person is sick or on vacation? The whole situation is problematic for many business owners.
So, what are the options? As a business owner, you have some decisions to make.
- Keep Management In-house or explore Managed IT as an Extension of the IT Staff. Does it make sense to keep IT in-house or have experts manage all or specific complex elements, like Citrix, that will provide guaranteed performance? If the current hardware has a few more years of life left in it, but internal IT skills are scarce, using a Managed IT provider might make sense. The financial model makes sense for small/medium businesses and enterprise alike.
- Stay with Citrix or try something else? Fortunately, Citrix environments work very well in all the scenarios because they are built for both local and remote access environments, able to provide an excellent response regardless of where your users are or what type of device they are using. It also fosters the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) concept where your users can supply their own tablet, smartphone and computer (if they work from home) and be very effective at work without disturbing the personal use of their devices.
- Find an IT services partner firm that can offer you all of the possible solutions. Today you can upgrade your in-house IT environment and manage it with internal staff, upgrade your in-house system but have a partner manage it for you onsite or remotely (Managed Services), or you can outsource the entire IT environment and have the partner provide hardware, software and management for a flat monthly fee (Hosting).
Let’s look at each of these options in more detail and discuss the Pros and Cons of each choice.
- In-house System and Management. This is what we have always done with Windows-based systems. In this option, you are responsible for purchasing and maintaining all the hardware and software, and staffing it to whatever level you choose with employees from your company. The hardware can be installed on your premise or co-located (co-lo'ed) in a data center. There may be good reasons for you to continue down this path, but with those reasons come capital costs for the infrastructure and personnel costs for the staff. When cashflow is king, this can be a difficult and expensive choice, but not necessarily one that has to be repeated at the next upgrade window.
- Managed Service. In this case, you would typically own all the hardware and software products, but they would be managed by a professional IT management partner through an internet connection to your system. Again, the hardware can be installed on your premise or in a data center. This would solve the IT staffing issues since the management partner would take care of these tasks. This would give you redundancy in staff, eliminate the sick time/vacation issues, and everything else that goes with having IT staff. This is a very good choice for a company that still has fairly new hardware and software that still has significant depreciation to be taken.
- Hosting. With this option, everything is provided by the IT services partner. For a fixed monthly fee over several years, the partner would provide the servers, software and management of the system for you and your employees would access your system in their data center over the internet. Again, Citrix products make this virtually transparent to your users. This means no capital expenditures on hardware and software, and no IT employees to pay and deal with. This is a great choice if your system is old and you need to pretty much start from scratch. This is IT as a utility, just like the phone company, and the potential benefits in reduced cost and eliminated headaches is significant. If done properly, there are no real downsides.
So there you have it. Now you have choices to the IT black hole, and several of them are very good ones. Just make sure you chose a good IT services partner that can give you references and all the choices to select from.