I had a spirited discussion about IT support with Chris Lyons from Philadelphia based TrigonIT. So this blog edition compares and contrasts the delivery models of managed services hosting and on premise employee delivered IT support. To compare the models I used the ITIL Service Delivery standards of: Service Level Management, Capacity Management, IT Service Continuity Management, Availability Management, and Financial Management for IT Services.
Taken together these standards help save money and provide a guaranteed level of service.
Service Level Management: To begin, compare and contrast a managed services hosting provider who is SAS 70 Type II Certified for application management services with an on premise delivery team. The hosting provider has well developed controls to maintain service levels for both proactive and reactive situations. On the proactive side, network and server daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance is recorded as a change management control standard in a configuration management database. This allows any IT professional to be able to pick up where another left off. Since coverage is 24 x 7 any on duty IT Professional can perform these tasks on schedule. For the ‘just right’ staffed on-premise team, in addition to these proactive tasks there are vacations and other time off considerations, job training gaps, individual growth plans, management goal achievement, and many other conflicting events to vie for the IT Professionals time. This is all further problematic because these personnel issues take precedence over contracted service levels required of a hosting provider.
Capacity management: tasks of the hosting provider require recording asset utilization statistics, service request statistics, and other reporting metrics required by contracts. On premise shops may do this as well. But without an authoritative contract monthly statistics reporting is rarely done. Not knowing the trends can creep up on the team and before you know it there are issues.
Service continuity: Better known as disaster recovery, service continuity is the daily concern of the hosting provider. With many environments under management the experience with recovery is current. This is rarely the case for even the most well intentioned on-premise staff. The reality is if a disaster strikes recovery is practice. For the hosting provider the SAS 70 audited control processes ensure this capability is in place when the inevitable disaster occurs.
It is important to that disaster recovery can mean both local disaster recovery for system failures, and alternate site recovery for complete site failure. A SAS 70 provider will have both a local and alternate facility solution for service continuity.
Availability management: What is the on premise contract for application availability? Is there a guaranteed uptime of critical applications of 99.5% or better? Is there guaranteed uptime at all? A hosting provider who is providing IT support for critical IT services will have offered and is being held to a specific and measureable availability statistic.
Financial management: Typically, a hosted service will provide both assets and manpower at a monthly cost much lower than that of an on premise solution. This is the operating expense vs. capital expense paradigm. The financials certainly look better with the operating expense provided by the hosting provider. And embedded in the hosting expense is the labor required to provide the service.
When considering the hosting vs. on premise delivery of IT support services be sure to consider the service delivery dimensions fully to ensure that the best value is obtained for the money. It is not enough to err on the side of on premise these days. Software and infrastructure as service models enabled by both virtualization and cloud computing make a very compelling case.
For a complete review of your IT support situation be sure to contact either TrigonIT on the East Coast or iStreet Solutions on the West Coast for an IT support assessment of your IT. Contact iStreet Solutions at 877-595-8479 to begin an assessment.