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IT Services: In-House, Managed or Hosted?

IT Services: In-House, Managed or Hosted?

September 2013

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IT Services: In-House, Managed or Hosted?

IT Services in Austin, TX

IT Services in Austin TX

If you are the CFO, CTO or decider of IT budgeting or strategic direction, you have likely struggled with a form of the same question: are in-house IT services still worth it for your company?

IT services, at least in the physical footprint of servers and drives, continue to shrink in size while increasing in power.  Equipment for your company that used to be housed in a room is now in a closet, and if what you have is now in a closet your next IT servers many take up only a single rack.

People Still Required

However, the knowledge, and resulting human capital needed to manage and maintain a mature, robust IT environment remains high.   If anything, services have grown more complex as advanced equipment becomes more and more specialized. A well-run IT department can require a CTO, more than half a dozen specialists with distinct certifications, and help desk support proportionate to company size and coverage needs.  

As the physical infrastructure of contemporary IT services get smaller, is there any equivalent opportunity to downsize headcount?  Is being on your own the most effective solution for your company's IT needs?  If not, what alternatives are out there?

IT services stand at a particular crossroads today. Powerful technology is available to your company through the cloud and by remote connection, from partners who can specialize far more effectively than you can.  Looking at two types of outsourced IT services, hosted and managed solutions, can make the picture of your company's unique solution become clearer to you.

Managed Services

Simply put, managed services involve taking your legacy or new investment-technology and putting its maintenance and management in the hands of others.  You own, or continue to own, your servers, cabling, drives and workstations, but their servicing is now in the hands of an outside partner.

When does this option make sense?  One example is when your company needs to refresh servers or workstations, which must generally happen every 3-5 years.  Or you're choosing, for startup purposes or your own business reasons, to make a heavy investment in brand new technology.  

Or, your company is not a Fortune-500 size but needs Fortune 500-level IT services.  Hiring a full-time IT department would represent too heavy an ongoing expense.  Providers of managed IT services, distributing their specialists and time among several clients, can often provide the manpower and expertise you need at a discount compared to in-house salaries and benefits.  

Hosted Services 

Hosted services represent an even more radical solution.  When your IT services are hosted, your workstations and their connection to a remote server are the only equipment actually located in your physical office.  Your company's servers and drives are hosted at a partners co-location, or they're even placed on a shared platform with other companies.

In this case, you've removed much or almost all of the actual IT from your company's responsibility. When would you choose this option? Most obviously, when your company is too small - like a startup - to afford an investment in all the technology and expertise that you need.

Too, contemporary technology is like the human brain: for many business purposes,  you only use a fraction of its total capacity available.  New IT purchases, even that proverbial single rack, might be overkill for your company.  Additionally, a hosted IT services partner, with their sole business focus, can often provide a greater network reliability, with more comprehensive scalability, backup and security solutions than you could comparably develop on your own..

In-House Resources

Do in-house resources, then, retain any role in a company like yours?   Help desk support remains a bastion of hands-on experience within IT services.  If there's one thing that hasn't changed about personal computers and laptops, it's that many issues are as inexplicable to inexperienced users now as ever.  

Hardware is more robust - obviously, a dropped laptop or fried hard drive is one type of help desk issue. But most help desk issues revolve around software complexities.  Managing application upgrades, scheduling security patches and OS updates, or finding out where that file or folder went just when it's needed most - those are the lion's share of contemporary help desk requests.

When something goes wrong, many of your company's key men and women - think principals, partners, chiefs - will not be satisfied with a voice on the phone or the typed suggestions of a chat support session. Having support staff onsite, or at least in real time, remains an invaluable resource.

Find Your Right Solution

In the end, your company should find a profitable balance.  Speaking to vendors, comparing service offerings and respective pricing, is an important first step.  Your company has many ways to get the technology and expertise you need without overspending or sacrificing capability.  Raise your IT services expectations today!

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