Referred to by some as the “third wave” of outsourcing, virtually every CIO is at least somewhat aware of remote infrastructure management, or RIM.
While various firms offer RIM, all service providers are not alike and there are important considerations to keep in mind when beginning a partnership. In particular, CIOs should consider these seven essential “rules of engagement:”
1: Define roles. RIM services must be offered via a model whereby the CIO has flexibility and control and the IT services vendor acts as a task partner. For instance, the vendor might manage the entire data center, but the CIO decides which technology to use and what to add to or subtract from that data center.
Or, the vendor might manage and monitor various applications, but the CIO decides when to give priority to which applications. Therefore, all the major strategic decisions are made by the CIO, with the vendor acting as an advisor on strategy. This level of visibility and control enables CIOs to take ownership of the partnership and make informed decisions on future investments in IT.
2: Adhere to the ITIL standard. Vendors should provide high-quality technology, people and processes and run management operations as defined by the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) standard, which ensures faster problem resolution.
Furthermore, an extensive knowledge base of standard operating processes provide continuous learning and ensure problems get the attention of the right expert. In addition to these standards, the vendor should also be ISO 2000 and ISO 27001 certified.
3: Allow multiple avenues to reduce costs. The ideal RIM agreement should offer CIOs multiple avenues to reduce costs, such as headcount reduction by elimination of under-utilized resources, leveraging operations improvements from working with multiple customers and cross-pollination of best-practices.
4: Ensure transparency. Vendors should ensure variability in business models, where prices are not fixed and pricing models are transparent. There should also be transparency into IT functions and service level agreements (SLAs), which should be revisited on a yearly basis.
5: Establish measurable goals. RIM services ought to be easily measurable and there should be no question of whether a vendor should charge less or more. CIOs must see what they get and know exactly what the vendor charges. Also, CIOs should be aware of all the processes and methodologies being used, and ensure the proper tools are in place to monitor functions to drive better SLAs.
6: Provide 24×7 support. RIM vendors should provide experts that monitor infrastructure performance 24x7x365. This eliminates delays and reduces costs, since the vendors work across various time zones and can fix problems before the next working day begins.
7: Ensure best practices SLAs. The RIM partnership must be entered into under precise SLA agreements with penalties on non-compliance and downtime. Effective SLAs helps to strengthen the in-house IT function and overall service delivered to the CIO’s organization.
R. Srikrishna (Keech) is vice president of the Infrastructure Services Division for HCL America. He has been with HCL for 13 years and in 1999 was part of the team that initialized the vision for remote infrastructure management in India.