Q&A: Outsourcing to IaaS vs. Keeping Infrastructure In-house

By Lauren Fritsky


Australia’s a great place for widespread cloud adoption – but many enterprises don‘t care.

Despite being ranked No. 2 in the world for cloud readiness by the BSA Global Cloud Computing Score Card, adoption of private cloud in the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) delivery model has slowed, according to Longhaus research. Part of the issue could be related to enterprises wanting to retain control over their virtualised infrastructure by keeping it in-house. But beyond control, is there ever a reason to maintain these resources – and associated costs – onsite instead of outsourcing to a cloud services provider? Peter Bainbridge, Business Manager of the Solutions Group for Datacom, weighs in.

First of all, why do you think businesses are shying away from private IaaS?

“It’s fear – fear of the provider messing up, downtime and the provider not taking as much care of the infrastructure as if it were its own. Data sovereignty is an issue too – I wouldn’t trust someone with my entire business’s data if they were just a faceless entity on the internet.”

Are those fears founded?

“Not from our experience. We make guarantees around everything a customer is concerned about, and they are financially-backed in the form of service credits. Customers know where their data is stored and managed, and they participate in a partnership with us, which means they can come and visit us whenever they like.”

In terms of IT skills, what is required when hosting infrastructure in-house vs. when IT outsourcing?

“In a complex in-house infrastructure, you need a Jack of all trades. Or you’re going to need lots of specialists who are expensive and they may not be used to their full capacity. And then what happens when they want to take leave, or they’re sick? I’ve also seen examples where people work just that little bit slower, or keep an environment back a little, to ensure long-term employment and a sense of comfort.

Outsourced IaaS provides a pool of resources where you get the specialists you need to support your system, but you only pay for what you actually need. Using a pool of resources means customers don’t have to worry about sick leave or resource management or skills maintenance and training; and it comes with a huge benefit you don’t get when in-sourcing. For example, at Datacom, our team is constantly exposed to a wide range of environments and technology choices and are encouraged and rewarded for bringing relevant efficiencies and transformative ideas to our customers.”

What are the pros of keeping infrastructure in-house?

“There aren’t many actual benefits. Some IT managers may think it’s best to keep infrastructure in-house if you have static requirements, meaning workloads that won’t fluctuate. But most enterprises today are managing dynamic workloads. Some IT managers may also keep everything in-house to maintain their autonomy. When you introduce IT outsourcing to the picture, it takes away much of the control from the IT manager, and he may see that as a threat to his job. But what IT managers don’t realise is that by outsourcing infrastructure, they can become more strategic in-house. They can become an IT enabler that drives business value from IT, directly contributing to the company’s success with a long-term, sustainable view on IT services.”

Some enterprises believe you have less responsibility when you move to IaaS. What’s the truth?

“You can’t outsource risk. If your IT outsourcer fails you, you’re responsible. You still keep the burden of risk – you have to manage your vendor so your business outcomes are always front of mind, always the focus and drive everything you and the vendor do.”

How do you best do that?

“By actively participating in SLA reviews, keeping communication channels open, engaging in strategic IT planning, getting involved early, keeping an open mind for the outsourcer to come to you – they can bring innovation to things you didn’t know you needed or services or requirements you might need down the line.

At Datacom, we make managed services easier by proactively engaging at all levels of the partnership. We have a service delivery manager monitoring the client’s day-to-day performance to set objectives, an account manager to oversee the strategic overall relationship and an executive sponsor within Datacom advocating that client’s needs. We meet monthly to discuss SLA performance, regularly talk about operational issues and have quarterly discussions around innovations and IT strategy alignment.”

When is a good time for a business to really look at making the transition to IaaS?

“It’s when you’re undertaking a transformative process. Outsource your existing infrastructure in the lead-up to cloud, because then your outsourced vendor intimately understands your environment before transforming it, reducing risk, downtime and cost when you make the leap into cloud.”

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