Alternatives to outsourcing inefficiency

Whether or not to outsource is one of the questions foremost in the minds of IT directors today as they try to maximise their...

Whether or not to outsource is one of the questions foremost in the minds of IT directors today as they try to maximise their already constrained IT budgets.

The experts generally advise users to outsource the solution rather than the problem. They argue that if you outsource an inefficiently run IT department, the outsourcer will gladly take it over, lock, stock and barrel.

You then end up with an outsourced and inefficiently run IT department and you pay the outsourcer to keep the inefficiency going. It is better to work out the best way to run the IT department before you outsource.

On the other hand, users may feel they need not outsource their IT at all. This appears to be the strategy of enterprise IT management tools firm Computer Associates, which last week publicly slammed the type of infrastructure outsourcing operated by companies such as IBM Global Services.

CA chairman and chief executive officer Sanjay Kumar criticised the lack of innovation among outsourcers. CA's argument is that outsourcers have no incentive to reduce the operational costs of running your IT department.

CA's approach to minimising the cost of running an IT department is its suite of systems management tools which it claims will provide the necessary IT management infrastructure to support on-demand computing.

While it may look good on a Powerpoint presentation, I suspect that implementing an IT management infrastructure for on-demand computing would be a seriously complex process. Potentially, it could take years to build and would then require constant maintenance in order to support the IT required as the business evolves.

In CA's strategy, an IT director would be able to see the overall IT cost of running a given business service. They would be able to ascertain the impact on business processes of a failure in a given IT asset such as a router, a server, middleware or an application. I believe this is nigh on impossible to achieve because it assumes businesses understand fully how all the components of an IT infrastructure interrelate.

Users are still struggling with enterprise application integration projects to connect such systems together. I fear CA's approach, while an honourable goal to aim for, will prove impossible to achieve. And as for outsourcing this approach to IT management, it looks far too complex to provide outsourcers and their potential clients with a viable business case.

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