12 February 2014
By Paul Fick, Chief Technology Officer, the Jasco
approach to IT infrastructure is emerging. Driven by megatrends such as the
emergence of the cloud, the ubiquity of mobile devices and the growth of BYOD
in the workplace, CIOs are moving away from owning infrastructure and IT
solutions to making use of technology infrastructure and solutions on a
pay-per-use basis. It’s an approach that is helping organisations harness new
technologies to drive business, but is also introducing a changing
infrastructure dynamic – one that requires careful consideration to address
potential security and interoperability challenges.
availability of outsourced services, fully managed services and cloud-delivered
services supports CIOs’ shift away from capex to opex models, and is giving
impetus to the adoption of outside-in approaches to IT infrastructure. The
reasoning is simple: why tie up capital that can be used to finance the
business, when making use of an outsourced service or pay per use model will
give the organisation the flexibility to scale the use of technology as needed.
A balance does need to be found between
owning and using technology, however. Depending on the use case, a hybrid
outside-in/inside-out approach may be optimal.
outside-in better than inside-out?
In making a
decision between in-house and owned (inside-out) versus outsourced and cloud-based
solutions, the key questions to ask include:
• What is the comparative cost of the
• What is the potential medium to long
term return on the investment?
• How critical is the solution to the
• What is the risk?
business case will differ for each organisation, the major outside-in approach
challenges, namely security, integration and availability, should form part of
comparisons are important to make. There may be hidden costs. In addition to
usage and licensing costs, organisations must consider implementation and
running costs - e.g., bandwidth usage, data storage, SLAs, technology
management and administration.
applications and outsourced solutions will also impact data security. As more
organisations allow staff to make use of their own smartphone and tablet PC
devices, the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend is taking hold. A mobile
workforce can use cloud-delivered applications like Salesforce.com, Exchange,
and service management applications very effectively. Unfortunately,
cloud-based productivity solutions, besides enabling the workforce, may make
sensitive enterprise information vulnerable. To manage this, organisations need
to be able to control how these solutions integrate with enterprise
applications, data and technology, and what users can access and download.
the solution remains an issue in South Africa where bandwidth can be limited.
If the solution is going to be critical to the business, CIOs need to ensure
there will be sufficient bandwidth to run the cloud-based application optimally
– for office bound staff, remote workers and staff who travel a lot.
Weighing up the
are widely adopted offer proven benefits, with the depth of functionality and
limitations well documented. Salesforce.com is a good example. It is a mature
solution with proven capability that has been adopted globally by large and
small businesses alike. Similarly, payroll solutions have long been outsourced
and can be considered mature. While critical to organisations, it’s an
outside-in decision that represents little risk.
other outside-in solutions may depend on the objectives of the organisation,
existing investments, and a multitude of other factors. For example, one
organisation that requires a contact centre solution may see huge benefit in
making use of a cloud-based pay-as-you-go outsourced solution as it may provide
speed to market, scalability, reliability and savings on capex. Another company
that has already made a large investment in the infrastructure, technology and
staff needed for a contact centre may see little benefit in switching to an
Strike a balance
Making use of an
outsourced, fully managed or cloud-based service clearly offers a number of
benefits over ownership of IT infrastructure. But to successfully leverage an
outside-in IT approach, a balance needs to be struck: the organisation cannot
lose sight of the need to keep control of intellectual property, enforce a
security policy, and ensure that the technology and applications the business
relies on are stable and reliable. Above all, use of outside-in strategies must
make business sense – the benefits must be tangible and the risks manageable.