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Review: Outsourced Data Center Services

Sure, big outsourcers brag about the height of their racks, the amount of room under their floors, their monster KVA generators and multiple redundant WAN connections. All cool stuff. But at least as important is the right mix of service and price for your company. We decided to check the state of this balancing act for smaller companies by sending out an RFI on behalf of our fictional widget manufacturer, NWC Inc., which is seeking a partner to manage its server infrastructure (click over to to order a widget, and see our scenario on page 42 for a list of requirements).


We sent our RFI to 18 outsourcing companies. EDS, Globix, Infosys Technologies and Savvis agreed to participate. Rackspace and Infocrossing initially accepted, but backed out when they learned we require--and publish--pricing reflecting our scenario. Our invitation to Sun Microsystems was inadvertently delayed, and by the time the company could respond, it was too late to include it. We regret this misstep--Sun is a force in the outsourcing arena, and NWC Inc. would have liked to consider it. Affiliated Computer Services (ACS), AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, IBM Global Services, MCI, Perot Systems, Sterling Network Services, Tata Consultancy Services, Unisys, Verio and Verizon didn't respond to our invitation. Patni Computer Systems and Cognizant didn't fit our criteria.

NWC Inc.'s servers, load balancers and network connections support the customer-facing and back-end apps used to manufacture, sell and deliver widgets. We judged responses based on service levels, including availability and MTTR (mean time to repair); price, both monthly and start-up; support; provided hardware, software and storage systems; and network and environmental factors. NWC Inc. runs 24/7 on a diverse infrastructure, including Apache, IBM WebSphere, Oracle, SQL Server applications, and an internally developed stock-management app running on Red Hat Linux and Windows 2000. We maintain 6 TB of data and would like to outsource WAN provisioning, network and systems support, and maintenance, but not at the expense of flexibility, availability and stability.

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