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Infrastructure outsourcing is a subcontracting service in which the management of an organization’s Information Technology (IT) systems and applications is handled by a third party. While these services have become very popular in recent times, the concept of outsourcing is not entirely new. In fact, corporations such as EDS, IBM, and Unisys started the infrastructure outsourcing trend in the early 1990s by seizing full ownership of the employees and IT assets of client companies.
Management of a company’s IT infrastructure and applications is often done from a remote location, usually in the service provider’s data center. Some choose local facilities, while others elect to outsource offshore. In the typical arrangement, the contractor takes a number of proactive measures and remedial actions to ensure that all of the client’s IT assets will always be available to its customers. For most companies, this availability applies to more than just servers.
When entering an infrastructure outsourcing agreement, a company may also receive management of its network routers and switches, security mechanisms, desktops and peripherals, disk storage, and bandwidth. In an ideal environment, the service provider works with the customer to build a custom, scalable solution tailored for their needs. Because the contractor typically manages every aspect of the infrastructure, this type of agreement can free up the time a company needs to focus on its core initiatives, helping the organization dramatically increase its business efficiency.
In most cases, infrastructure outsourcing aims to the take the pain, confusion and cost complexities out of IT service provisioning for companies with limited, or no, dedicated IT resources. Even companies with an IT department in place can benefit tremendously from the opportunity to control costs and track where its financial resources are going, while obtaining the IT services the business requires. With the right solution, an organization has the potential to greatly simplify its infrastructure and reduce the cost of IT operations.
Infrastructure outsourcing can help accelerate the growth of a business by freeing up the time and internal resources that allows it to focus solely on its core competencies. This however, all depends on the service provider. Organizations that require any type of business process outsourcing are encouraged to seek out respectable contractors that have a proven track record in the industry, and only utilize the best in IT practices. Selecting a partner to entrust with infrastructure management is an important decision that can have a lasting impact on the business.
I feel kind of ambivalent about this idea. Let me show you the two sides I'm thinking about.
On the one hand I can see why a company would want to outsource its IT. These departments are big, complicated, expensive and difficult to set up. If these services can be better handled by an established provider it might save significant amounts of money and lead to more effective services.
On the other hand, IT departments are important and linked very closely to the operation of a company. If all these services are outsourced, it is possible that they will become distant and unresponsive. There is the risk that they will fail to meet the needs of both the company and the companies clients.