Is in-house or outsourced IT support better for your company?

To meet the challenge of today’s ever-increasing pace of digital change, some companies invest solely in in-house IT resources. Others leverage outsourced IT support options.

Deciding which resource is optimal for your business depends on how you run your business and what you want to gain from your IT support department.

In-house IT support

The pros

Maintaining IT support resources in-house gives you the most control over those functions:

  • Internal IT staff is not only more familiar with how the company functions, but also with its goals, mission and culture. Any in-house technical support will reflect those values.
  • In-house IT staff is also fundamentally familiar with organizational IT systems and programming, so they can be quicker to identify and address problem areas.
  • In-house IT support is especially critical for proprietary programming. Insider knowledge about key aspects of the organization may be intrinsic to its market value, and sharing that information with an outsourced contractor may not be worth the risk.

The cons

  • Cost. The expense of maintaining an in-house IT support team in place can be high. Specialists often expect higher wages, and your company may be expected to pay for their continuing education and training. Further, if their services aren’t needed on a daily basis, the company may be paying for significant amounts of downtime.
  • Time delays. Another challenge arises when IT projects arise faster than the IT support personnel address them. In mid- to large-sized companies, different business units may have to compete with each other for IT time to handle their particular crisis.

Outsourced IT support resources

Alternatively, there are many benefits to hiring a specialist to handle those activities that aren’t unique to the enterprise.

The pros

  • Lower cost—sometimes. IT functions that are common among businesses are often cheaper to access when handled by an outside contractor. These agents have streamlined the processes and practices and can offer their customers reduced prices because of those cost-saving measures. Additionally, outsourcing some of the IT support work also eliminates the expense of hiring, training and paying an IT specialist full time.
  • Flexible access. Many of today’s IT support vendors provide 24/7 customer service, so their customers always have access to the IT resources they need.

The cons

  • Remote support is the norm. Often the outsourced agent performs assessments and repairs remotely, so business owners can’t interact with that person on a face-to-face basis.
  • Shared resources may reduce availability. Additionally, the outsourced contractor probably has many customers, all of whom are vying for attention. Depending on the provider, there could lag between seeking support and receiving it.

The best of both worlds

Many companies elect to split their IT support options by creating a hybrid solution that responds to all their needs.

Best in-house services

  • Customer service. Maintaining the personal connection with customers is critical.
  • Proprietary information handling. Some business data is too important to share with an outsider.
  • Anything that can be automated. Email marketing, invoicing and billing, and even accounting can be automated to save time and money.

Best outsourced IT support services

  • Anything that will scale. Outsourced IT support vendors have the infrastructure and architecture needed to scale any corporate function.
  • Backup and recovery. Having an alternate location for redundant programming ensures that corporate data remains available despite a disaster.
  • Colocation options. Outsourced IT support vendors can provide additional corporate data center space cheaper than building new facilities in existing structures.

Today’s marketplace offers more opportunity than ever before. Both in-house and outsourced IT support services can help businesses maximize their resources and maintain their share of that space.

Top things to consider in a colocation site

More data is being generated, collected and analyzed than ever before. Data storage options are also becoming major centerpieces for business continuity and disaster recovery strategies. As time progresses, it will be significantly more difficult for in-house IT to manage it all. Colocation has become an answer for organizations to achieve security, easy access and ample data storage alongside optimal uptime levels. Let's take a look at the top considerations in a colocation site:

1. Location

Where you decide to colocate is a major decision. Kansas City Business Journal contributor Dan Kurtz suggested choosing a facility close to your company's headquarters or near the majority of your employees. Having a colo facility in close proximity allows leaders to go check on their systems and manage them appropriately. It will also help provide the connectivity and latency that users require. The facility should also be in a place that is protected from severe weather events and disperses water away. Details like these will enable organizations to avoid disaster and drive continuous operations.

The facility's location could impact your decision.The facility's location could impact your decision.

2. Security

Your colocation site should give you peace of mind that your data is protected. Data Center Journal noted that there should be multiple levels of security externally as well as internally. This could include monitoring systems, physical barriers and layered security zones. Keycard access, staffed checkpoints and alarm systems should all be standard features. Guards can constantly monitor visitor access and ensure that no unauthorized personnel are able to access your hardware or data. Ask what types of safeguards are in place as well as what Tier compliance the site has. These considerations could make a big difference in where you decide to colocate and what vendor you choose.

"Compare vendor prices to quote comparable facilities and support services."

3. Pricing

The cost associated with colocation services can be a major factor in your decision. TechTarget contributor Julius Neudorfer noted that while this shouldn't be the crux of your choice, you should compare vendor prices to quote comparable facilities and support services. The amount of power and cooling required will play a big part in your price, and each provider will have its own formula for supplying these utilities. Carefully consider your options based on the solutions provided, history of success and industry costs. These factors will help narrow down your options to the best colocation facility for your requirements.

As data becomes more of a priority for businesses, it will be important to store, manage and protect this asset effectively. It's often time-consuming and expensive to build and manage a data center on your own, but with colocation, you can have a data center without all the cost. The facility itself is governed by the provider, while you maintain your hardware. It will be important to look at the facility's location, security capabilities and service pricing compared to other vendors to guide you to the best solution. For more information on choosing a colocation site, contact ISG today.

Colocation – 8 Terms to Know

8 Factors Graphic.jpgColocation continues to evolve every year as needs for storing mission critical information change. For many companies, balancing profitability of IT with constant repairs, downtime, and continuously improving security has become overwhelming. As such, colocation is in demand, simply because it makes good business sense.

When determining if colocation is the best solution for your company and how it aligns with your company’s long-term strategy, you may come across a few new terms. To help you during the discovery process, we created the following list of 8 key colocation terms that you can share with your team:

1. Hybrid Colocation – the act of storing data both on and off-site.

2. Rack Space – the amount of physical space you will need to house your servers off-site.
3. Cabinet Space – a cabinet is the term commonly used to reference one full rack (42-47 U).  Half and full racks as well as space by the unit can be rented at most colocation facilities to house your company’s servers.
4. Cage Space – provides an added layer of physical security.  The additional layer of protection provides you with the peace of mind that no one will have access to your highly sensitive date.
5. Uptime – refers to the availability of your servers and is often measured in a percentage.  A data center’s estimated uptime is categorized by tiers.  Tiers range from 1-4 or 99.61% – 99.99% expected uptime.  What is your uptime?
6. N+1 Redundancy – have an independent back-up in case of failure to assure that your data remains available.  A common example includes: back-up generators.
7. Service Level Agreement (SLA) – a contract outlining what level of service the provider will deliver and what consequences there will be for not abiding by those commitments.  Addresses: performance, reliability, and support.
8. SSAE 16 SOC II – a detailed auditing report created by the AIPCA, is designed specifically to evaluate a data center’s security, availability, processing, integrity, confidentiality, and privacy.  It also replaces the use of SAS 70.

To learn more about Colocation, download our free white paper: 4 Factors to Consider with Colocation.

Copy of 4 Factors to Consider with Colocation.jpg

White Paper: 4 Factors To Consider With Colocation

Register to receive the ISG white paper

Colo WP ThumbnailThe global colocation market will see a compound annual growth rate of 12.4 percent through 2020, so if you are doing your research on colocation providers, you’re in good company. For a growing number of businesses, colocation provides a lot of benefits:

  • Easy upgrade from an on-site “server room” into a professional data center
  • Reduced initial and ongoing expense to build, power, cool and backup an on-site data center
  • Support from professionals in managing maintenance and upgrades
  • Backup of critical data for disaster recovery efforts

Learn how to make a business case for colocation. Get info on how to select a colocation provider, including questions to ask for businesses subject to compliance regulations. ISG is SSAE 16 Type 2 SOC 2 audited for security, availability, privacy, processing and performance.

Colocation on the rise

According to a recent report compiled by Allied Market Research, colocation is going to see a huge amount of growth in the coming years. The report stated that by 2020, the global colocation market is likely going to reach around $51.8 billion. A lion's share of this explosion of market growth is going to come from the IT and telecom industries. This is based on their ever-increasing need for data center services, as well as the quickly disappearing IT budgets many companies are seeing. 

Why is colocation so popular?
Even now, before this predicted boom, colocation was and is an extremely profitable business, with the 2014 North American colocation market being valued at $11.78 billion. That's quite a lot of money, but it's a market that is of the utmost importance to the existence of many businesses.

Before colocation, companies that had data storage needs were forced to maintain their own data centers and servers. This was extremely inefficient in terms of the capital expenditures of having to purchase so much data center hardware, as well as the operational expenditures of having to have IT employees dedicated solely to the daily running and upkeep of this equipment. 

This was especially hard on smaller companies that didn't have the money to operate their own data center equipment, making renting the equipment from outside vendors at offsite locations much more logical. 

With all of these benefits to colocation, it's no wonder that the global colocation market is predicted to register a compound annual growth rate of 12.4 percent between 2015 and 2020. This growth rate shows that quite a few businesses are going to be relying on colocation services in the future. 

Considering all the benefits, as well as how popular it is and will become, any business that believes its spending too much money managing its own data center should absolutely look into colocation from ISG Technology. With ISG's dedicated team of knowledgeable colocation professionals, you can trust that your data will be secure and fully accessible. 

Cloud vs. colocation: What's the best option?

Technology is changing more rapidly than ever before, and as such, the decision to keep data on-site or outsource it is becoming more and more relevant. While many companies may decide to keep their storage needs in-house, a wide range of businesses simply do not have this capacity or they choose not to take on this responsibility.

The reasons for this vary, however, the point is that some companies would absolutely benefit from storing data off-site. It is at this point that these companies must decide between cloud services, colocation or a combination of the two.

Cloud or colocation: Which is best for your company?
To begin, it is important to define cloud storage and colocation so that an informed decision about their differences can be made. Cloud services are where a cloud provider gives a company the ability to remotely access their resources and stores everything in the own data center environment. 

While this limits the hardware options a company can choose from, it gives the added bonus of keeping the responsibility of all system upkeep firmly in the hands of the cloud provider. Companies with a weak IT infrastructure or even those wishing to keep their IT department focused on a limited number of internal goals would absolutely benefit from cloud services and should put some serious thought into considering their usefulness.

Colocation, on the other hand, is where companies purchase and bring their own equipment to an outside data center with the added bonus of sharing power and other hardware needs with fellow tenants. Basically, this option is like renting an apartment and having other companies with similar data management needs as roommates. Colocation also allows for companies to have their data stored offsite, which gives an extra amount of security in terms of disaster recovery and business continuity.

It is these specific benefits that have lead consulting firm Vanson Borne to predict that colocation is going to be the biggest outsourcing approach over the next year. While there are many advantages to colocation, companies should understand the responsibility of this sort of data storage arrangement.

Colocation requires that companies purchase all their own hardware, and as such a deep knowledge of these systems is typically needed in order to choose the correct equipment necessary for their specific needs. Thankfully, colocation experts such as ISG Technology have a wide understanding of these infrastructures and can help clients with their colocation needs. 

Obviously, any company that is deciding between these two options needs to think long and hard about its data storage needs. Does the company need to focus more on internal IT needs than it does the management of data storage hardware? Or does the company not want to use another company's server to store data? Perhaps some data can be stored with a cloud service provider while other data is best kept within hardware owned by the company. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, as well as to combining the two in a more hybrid arrangement. There is no "better" option because every company's needs differ, and as such, each company needs to come to the understanding of which option is best for its specific requirements.