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February 20, 2018

What Enterprise Organizations Can Learn from Nonprofits About IT Infrastructure Management Decisions

By Special Guest
Amanda Regnerus, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Product Development, US Signal

Business Challenge

Your IT department has found it has a perfect storm brewing. The maintenance and support contracts on your on premise IT equipment are coming due. At the same time, the contract for your backup data center provider is expiring and you just really want to get out of the infrastructure business. You want to stop having to prioritize IT workarounds and focus on pursuing your company’s business objectives that keep your internal and external customers happy. This was the challenge CIO, Tom Drez at Christian Brothers Services was facing a couple of years ago that set them on mission to find an IT Service Provider.

Now, it’s time for you to take a breath and thoughtfully evaluate whether it is better to continue taking the in-house IT infrastructure management route or if outsourcing to an IT Service Provider is going to alleviate stress and liability, and support your company’s growth and profitability aspirations.

According to a Gartner, Inc. report, “I&O leaders face data center modernization challenges as facilities age, contracts expire and infrastructures approach end-of-life cycles.”

Finding the Right IT Service Provider

So, you’ve decided to evaluate the pros and cons of inhouse v outsourcing.

Outsourcing to an IT Service Provider is becoming more common amongst organizations of all sizes, Gartner, Inc. reported recently, “The worldwide IT services market will reach $985 billion in 2018, growing 5.5% in U.S. dollars (4.4% in constant currency). With outsourcing contributing 60% of market growth, the market will reach $1.1 trillion in 2021.”

Now, thoughtfully consider your needs associated with: consolidating and improving your data center, backup and disaster recovery operations; normalizing or even reducing the costs related to IT infrastructure, its management and protection; alleviating IT project backlog; meeting relevant regulatory and compliance requirements.

Then consider your business results must-haves such as: reduction in operational overhead and management of core IT Infrastructure, backup and disaster recovery; establishing an Information Security Framework; maintaining a predictable cost model for IT; increasing IT resilience with lower RTO/RPO; increasing IT responsiveness to the business.

Step 1: Assess the cost
A few years ago it may have been 2 to 3 times more cost effective to administer your own data center.  But, that’s not necessarily the case anymore. Market drivers have been rapidly bringing down the cost of outsourcing IT infrastructure management making outsourcing now financially on par with inhouse data center and services management in many cases. Consequently, a rapidly increasing number of companies are finding, with the right IT services partner, it makes more financial sense to outsource their IT infrastructure and management.

Step 2:  Assess the needs

When considering whether to outsource, there are many factors CIOs must consider including:

  • Finding a knowledgeable, reliable, secure provider that can deliver the same level of attention to your needs as their inhouse IT team.
  • The provider would also need an in-depth understanding of the organization’s compliance needs: i.e. HIPAA and PCI (News - Alert) DDS requirements, satisfying FFIEC standards, RTO/RPO mandates, etc.
  • Does it make sense to put both the primary data center and backup operations in the hands of a single provider?

Step 3: Pick a provider

First, ask yourself if this is a vendor I can see as a long-term partner for the company? Second, ask the question, “does the provider offer a full range of options to pick from for my current and potential future like, hybrid IT, colocation, security, compliance, data protection, disaster recovery, storage, backup, cloud and network solutions. Finally, consider the package of products and services each provider has recommended to you. Below are a few recommendations a total solution provider might offer:

Internet with Cloud-based Advanced Security Plus —  Centralizing Internet access at the data center with protection by a Unified Threat Management (UTM) platform to provide a best-of-breed protection 

strategy against Internet threats to your data network.

Enterprise Cloud — for high availability design, performance, HIPAA-compliant ready architecture, granular scalability and affordable cost.

Hosted Private Cloud –OpEx models which may host your organization’s ERP, email and file systems which need locality to ensure performance and for VDI solutions that may have more technical

requirements which require dedicated computing architecture such as Hosted Private Cloud.  

EBaaS – for a comprehensive backup strategy, reducing time investment for day-to-day

IT tasks for teams with an established framework for management, monitoring and remediation.

DRaaS – for improved workload resiliency, DR services can provide replication to a geographically diverse secondary warm site using a continuous data protection model, leading to much lower RTO/RPO, fully managed by the provider and tested twice annually.

The Outcome

Deciding on the right IT solution for your company is never simple but with the right IT Service Provider, the decisions can be made easier. A trusted provider will spend time assessing your company’s “hard” needs for the data center and supporting infrastructure but also assess the “soft” needs as IT impacts long term company strategy, end customer expectations and corporate responsibility. Whether you are a small, medium or large enterprise or even a nonprofit, every company has its own set of needs and shouldn’t be shoehorned into a one size fits all solution. In the end, if you pick the right provider, your inhouse IT operations team can be more responsive to your business rather than worrying about what the next hardware or software upgrade is going to be, you have enabled the overall impact and effectiveness of your IT department to grow immeasurably.

Christian Brothers Services did just that and found a solution that met their needs, “Our focus is now on the business. We are no longer consumed by what’s next on the IT roadmap,” Drez explains. “Instead, we can concentrate on the next acquisition or on the next product we will deliver to the members in our plans and programs. If, for example, the healthcare division’s customer services manager comes to us with an idea at 8 a.m., we can have something incubated by 2 p.m.”

About the Author: Amanda Regnerus is an award winning Executive Vice President of Marketing and Product Development for US Signal. She is an accomplished writer, career expert and leader in the IT and the telecommunications industries for all things sales, marketing, product development, professional services and strategic partnerships.

Edited by Mandi Nowitz

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