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Market Analysis: Is Outsourcing Right For You?

Q: What do the PC revolution of the '90s and the disco platform shoe craze of the '70s have in common?

A: Both seemed like good ideas at the time, achieved awesome heights, but ultimately proved bad for operational stability. PCs and the client-server model let businesses innovate by neatly sidestepping ponderous mainframe development cycles, but IT operations distributed across hundreds of machines, all running independently, degrade faster than a Bee Gees album in the sun. As the number of PCs and servers to be provisioned, patched and maintained grew, so did upkeep costs.



How far can you stretch one data center administrator? In our experience, across 30 to 50 servers, depending on the OS. BladeLogic, Opsware and other autoprovisioning software sellers say that number can go as high as 100 servers per admin ... if you're willing to pony up hundreds of thousands of dollars and commit to care and feeding of their provisioning suites. A tough proposition these days: When we asked in our most recent annual reader poll about the greatest IT challenges in the coming year, controlling costs was second only to ensuring security. And for many business people, controlling costs is code for outsourcing.

Of course, we know it's not that simple. Best case, outsourcing data center operations can alleviate administrative workloads while cutting costs, without negatively impacting the quality of IT service delivery. It makes sense--large managed hosting providers like EDS, Savvis and SunGard have implemented autoprovisioning systems, or built their own, offering the benefits without the learning curve, capital outlay or process update.

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