The Outsourcing Continuum, Part II: In-House Managed

This category of outsourcing is probably the least costly because what you’re paying for is remote expertise. In this model, you own the equipment and physical environment it sits in. What you don’t have is a bunch of hardware engineers on your staff. You get those experts sitting at your partner’s site.

In this environment, your partner will have connections to your on-site systems. They will monitor and manage your systems as if they were located in your office. The great thing about this model is you don’t have to hire the specialist you may only need occasionally. The cost of that expert is spread across multiple clients and you’re only paying for a tiny portion of the cost.

The down side is you may not get quite the same level of response to requests for service that you might with a dedicated resource. You don’t get to run down the hall to IT when you have a problem. This can be mitigated by negotiating a service level agreement (SLA) that provides for the response time you need and can afford.

The scope of work covered by under the SLA should include the following:

Network administration including:

    • Adding users and establishing network permissions for users.

    • Deleting users and denying user access to network.

    • Deploying patches and security updates.

    • Maintaining domain structure and related tasks, virus updates, user security, user lock down and migration.

In the event of a network failure, the partner will provide all labor required to restore the network to proper operation. Action will be taken immediately to regain operational status within a defined time (e.g., 4 hours). Labor to assure that the network is secure and stable. This includes:

    • Providing regularly scheduled on-site appointments to ensure the network is operating at a satisfactory performance level.

    • Ensuring that back-up operations are completed on a regular basis.

    • Examining daily back-ups and clear the event logs on a regular basis.

    • Ensuring that anti-virus definitions are up to date.

    • Installing all security updates and OEM patches.

    • Installing all software upgrades when they are available and appropriate for the site.

Response via email or phone within a defined time (e.g., 30 minutes) of being contacted. This includes:

  • Assisting employees in further identification and isolation of the problem.

  • Working with employee(s) to prioritize the problem and set realistic expectations for resolution.

  • Providing remote, technical support to servers, desktop users, and remote users.

  • Problems that affect a single employee should be repaired within 1 business day.

  • Monitoring software on all servers. This includes:

    • Set meaningful thresholds to monitor CPU loads, disk space utilization, and RAM.

    • Measure the performance of network against thresholds and set automated alerts to maximize server uptime.

    • Provide reports to management that will help achieve a higher ROI on hardware.

  • Meeting with the management periodically to make recommendations that will accommodate the proper size and configuration of the network components based upon industry best practices for the size and type of business. This includes:

    • Provide recommendations based upon the business expansion or contraction

    • Advise on emerging technologies that affect the business. Likewise, advise on technology obsolescence.

  • Providing limited training to help the users advance in their daily tasks including assisting users through remote access by shadowing users during a remote terminal services session.

  • Acting as a single point of contact for vendors that impact the network.

    • Consulting with telephony specialists as related to network configuration

    • Consulting with software and hardware OEM vendors as needed.

  • Assessing and reporting the operational status of the equipment periodically (at least once per month).

  • Creating and maintaining network diagrams and documentation.

  • Notifying via e-mail, phone or fax of all repairs, changes, and reconfigurations made to the equipment.

  • Maintaining a communications infrastructure capable of complying with this scope of work.