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The next frontier: Infrastructure as a service?

Jeff Lucchesi, CIO of Building Materials Holding Corp., is looking to build his technology infrastructure on a services model.

Jeff Lucchesi, CIO of Building Materials Holding Corp., is looking to build his technology infrastructure on a services model. In other words, he wants someone else to provide most technology services.

The weak link in Lucchesi's master plan: Infrastructure. Lucchesi, who spoke on an outsourcing panel at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo conference in San Francisco, works for a company that was spun off by Boise Cascade. But given the perils of the home building business right now he doesn't have a huge budget--1 percent of revenue is the target.

Thus far, Lucchesi has gone big on the software as a service model. He has Salesforce.com to provide CRM applications; Onbase for on-demand document management; and Hyphen for workforce management applications.

"We looked at the cost of the product, whether they knew the operations and how quick the service could be turned on," says Lucchesi.

Now if he could only do the same thing for his infrastructure--servers, hardware, networking and other parts of IT plumbing.

He says the infrastructure as a service model just isn't ready for prime time yet. Firms like Wipro and CSS are building toward managing infrastructure as a service, but Lucchesi is evaluating things.

His guesstimate is that infrastructure as a service will gain momentum in a year or two. What Lucchesi is advocating makes a lot of sense. Here's what he wants: Infrastructure that's sold based on usage and service level agreements not headcount.

Today, vendors looking to outsource infrastructure management usually try to add billable hours. And the last thing Lucchesi needs is headcount. "I don't want bodies. I want a service with clear costs," he says.  

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