IT is None of Your Business

IT is None of Your Business

Summary: Are you in the IT business? If not, then you should get out of the IT business. Let the IT companies handle your virtual infrastructure and your services for you, while you focus your efforts on your business.

SHARE:
31

If you're not in the IT business, what the hell are you doing in the IT business? Being in business is hard enough without also being in the IT business. You should focus your efforts on your business and leave IT to the people who do it for a living. Focusing on your business means finding a third-party company to do your IT work for you. Let them run the web servers, the database servers, the VMware hosts and the storage arrays and you concentrate on making a better tasting french fry.

Don't fool yourself into thinking that you can do IT as well as a company whose primary business is support. You can't. The sooner you realize that, the better off you'll be. You'll also be money ahead on the deal.

Supporting a living infrastructure isn't easy and I should know. I've done it for almost two decades. At times, it gets to be a little more than just a job. Outages, downtime, maintenance, patching, planning, finger-pointing, slacking and everyone yelling at me to fix it. Now!

It's enough to make you want to pay someone else to do it.

Nice segue into a discussion of hosted services, don't you think?

Find yourself a company that provides hosted services and engage it.

Hosted services, as I define them, are those services that you use but do not host on your local network or on your hardware. You don't virtualize them, you outsource them.

There are several reasons for this. Look at a list of advantages to using a hosting company for some of your more labor-intensive, time-sucking and money pit services.

  • Convenience
  • Cost
  • Security
  • Agility
  • Disaster Recovery
  • Uptime

Using a hosted service for some of your workloads makes sense. It's a convenient way to work on and access your services without a lot of hassle. Sure, you still want some control over changes and governance over who does what and where but come on, you have to admit that a hosted service is a liberation.

You don't need to host your own Email. You just don't. It's a pain to mess with it. Spam, antivirus, security, space constraints, archiving and user complaints are just more than most companies should bear. Same goes for services such as customer management systems (CMS), Wikis, sales automation software, time-keeping applications, e-commerce applications and transactions. And, someone please say that it's not a sin to use a hosted service for web services.

Your stupid web site with its dancing icons and flash movies should run somewhere else other than on your own systems. Convenience. Crazy concept. Learn about it.

Any business owner looks for ways to cut costs and outsourcing some of your services is the way to do it. When you can place your entire web presence online, on someone else's hardware, what's stopping you? Think of the money and headaches you'll spare yourself by doing so. You won't have to deal with hardware maintenance, support issues or the phone calls associated with running your own services.

When I had my own business, I ran my own services. That is until I counted up the amount of money and resources I had tied up in supporting those sources. It's overwhelming. I could host everything through a provider at one-twelfth the cost of doing myself. Yes, one month's worth of doing it myself bought me an entire year of service. Enough said.

I've seen many companies come to the same conclusion that I did and they're happier for it. Yes, I'm still on the supporting end of those services but I'm not in it alone anymore.

Though a lot of naysayers quote security breaches as a good reason not to use hosted services, it's not a great reason. However, if you look at the list of compromised businesses, they probably self-hosted those services. Look at it this way, if you use hosted services, your web site or CRM or some other service might get hacked to bits but you can restore them and get over it. The Mother Ship (your company's systems) are still intact and unharmed because the hackers didn't have access to them.

And, that's not "security through obscurity," it's security through separating hacker wheat from hacker chaff, as they say. But, here's a better question, "Can you do a better job of securing your network?" Be careful how you answer that. Hopefully, you won't find yourself standing in front of your next potential employer having to make up a lie when asked, "Why did you leave your last position?", when the truth is that you let your systems get hacked.

Growing a business is difficult under all but the best of economic conditions. Agility is important. What if you're working remotely and you can't connect back to the Mother Ship for something that you need? If you used a hosted service, that question would be pointless.

It wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark and if you wait until you need a disaster recovery solution, it's too late to build that recovery Ark. Hosted services, including Cloud services, can offer your company disaster recovery solutions at a fraction, a tiny fraction, of what you'd pay to build your own. When uptime is important to the life of your business, you'd better plan for disasters, because they will happen. Ask anyone who's lost their primary facility to a flood, tornado, hurricane or fire.

Use all of the virtualized systems in your network that your heart desires but be smart and host some of those services elsewhere. Focus on your business. Let the hosting companies focus on theirs. You have to decide whether you're running an IT company or doing whatever it is you do. And, do you want fries with that?

Does your company use any hosted services or do you do everything in-house? Use the Talkback area and let me know.

See Also:

Topics: Data Centers, Security

About

Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

31 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • I was going to type a post

    But it's really not worth my time to respond to this nonsense.
    happyharry_z
    • RE: IT is None of Your Business

      @happyharry_z

      You don't see any value in hosted services or...?
      khess
      • RE: IT is None of Your Business

        @khess
        Far be it from me to speak for happyharry, but I don't think his problem is with outsourcing of services. I think his problem (or, at least, mine) is the tone of the article. "Hey, you're too stupid to know what you're doing. You want fries with that?" I'm not quite sure what led to this rant (actually seemed more like a sales pitch to me. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that you're probably invested in the outsourced solutions), but if you were looking to convince people to do things a certain way, I think you're going to fail, if this is what you hit potential customers with.
        swmace
    • Message has been deleted.

      filhomarques
  • you can outsource all...

    Except responsibility and common sense.

    Read more at Dnet's sister site's article:

    www.techrepublic.com/blog/career/hey-it-cfos-dont-seem-to-like-you-very-much/3214

    good responses from people as well.

    It is not always about the money - especially when it happens to you. ;)
    HypnoToad72
  • Disaster Recovery

    I agree with the disaster recovery part. It does help.
    itechiesnet
    • RE: IT is None of Your Business

      @itechiesnet certainly it's a real useful tool for me. It saved me alots of times.
      http://bedavaoyun.eu
      janesone
  • Outsourcing

    As the old saying goes; hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Also, you have to be prepared for just about anything when it comes to IT; servers crashing, access to the servers going down, and the list goes on.

    For me, outsourcing is cheap, but see here's the thing; you think that you are being resourceful because you are moving your data out there in the cloud, but you have to weigh the cost of not just money, but also, the what-if. What if something happens to your internet connection? What happens if something happens in the cloud? It's OUT of IT's control if it's in the cloud. Also, data-security you also have to worry about in the cloud.

    Outsourcing may be cheap in the short-term, but like life, you have to look at IT in the long-term; not to keep up with the emerging technology, but also prepare for server and network growth. Something to definitely think about.
    onslaughtoner
    • RE: IT is None of Your Business

      @onslaughtoner

      That's the thing about the Internet, though, it doesn't go down for everyone. Your Internet connection might go down but, if you've leveraged your business to the Cloud or to a simple hosting service, everyone else can still do business with you. Be sure to select a hosted service that is tiered correctly for your business.
      khess
  • RE: IT is None of Your Business

    Third party services have to rotate their people between businesses. Their people can't know your business if it has unusual requirements in the software you need to run. Contract out that developement and upkeep and you wind up with people who don't understand your type of business and don't have time to learn it without incurring outrageous billable hours. Then the people who need to apply an update will probably be different and have to learn about your needs all over again. This is just one weakness with such a generalization.
    JimSatterfieldW
    • RE: IT is None of Your Business

      @JimSatterfieldW Incredibly pleasant as well as helpful stuff to see for everyone. I also recommend you this http://nzedpills.com
      Gustave
      drumandyou
  • RE: IT is None of Your Business

    Posts like this are on the border of negligence, they are certainly irresponsible and point to one more reason that people need to beware of what they read on the net. There are still so many issues with moving the world to the cloud. Yes, there are some things that make for smaller businesses and presumably that was your target audience. However, the current thoughts on IT management suggest that IT needs t omove from a cost center to a profit generator for the enterprise. The things mentioned here demonstrate old school thinking masked in buzzwords and media hype. Go back to being a competent sysadmin, oh wait, you can't. IT has been outsourced.
    bill.haight@...
    • RE: IT is None of Your Business

      @bill.haight@...

      Not necessarily even talking about the Cloud. Before the Cloud, there were hosting companies. Old school thinking? Me? You whippersnappers need to recognize progress when you see it. It makes economic sense for companies to outsource (and please make the distinction between outsource (third party hosting and support) and offshoring (placing the human support in another country)). I'm not talking about offshoring. That's a whole other rant.
      khess
      • RE: IT is None of Your Business

        @khess I couldn't agree more. My organization runs some specialized mainframe-based apps. Do we have a mainframe here? Nope. Never have. We've ALWAYS outsourced that--since long before the words "outsourcing" and "cloud" were used. Why? Because running a mainframe isn't our core competency, and because there are economies of scale that can be leveraged by sharing a mainframe with others.

        "The cloud" has its risks, but there's no evidence that those risks are any greater than the risks that come with hosting in-house.
        ParrotHead_FL
      • Outsourcing vs. offshoring?

        @khess - I dunno why you think outsourcing is OK, and offshoring isn't, or that the one will never involve the other.

        You know how modern brands work; the real stuff is outsourced to the cheapest bidder, usuall overseas, and the brand just slaps on lip-gloss and a bigger price tag.

        That's how the cloud will prolly go; you choose a "good" cloud vendor and they farm out your stuff on someone else's boxes.

        Sure, I can see the case for hosting services for web sites etc. but as other posters have pointed out, the tone of this article is absurd - unless you meant to spoof the infomercial style?
        cquirke
      • RE: IT is None of Your Business

        @khess
        Thanks, I haven't been called a whippersnapper since the 70s. FTR, I'm a 35 yr IT professional and CIO. Some of these points have already been made but consider these questions. I deal with senesitive data. In my DC located in my premise, I have pretty good control over who sees it. in the cloud on someone elses servers, what controls are in place to ensure security of the data. SLA's you say. We all know that they're not worth the paper they're printed on. But I can sue if they're breached!!! That will be very reassuring to the people that have had their personal info accessed. Where I work, we do outsource. We outsource a lot. We outsource what makes sense and the types of apps and services that are best hosted outside. The article seemed to me to say, "You don't need IT. You can buy that off the shelf." For anything larger than a mom and pop bakery, that is statement is incorrect and irresponsible.
        bill.haight@...
    • RE: IT is None of Your Business

      I agree with Bill. All or nothing posts like this are either from an ignorant point of view, or they are trying to sell you something. I agree that hosting may be valuable in certain scenarios and for certain businesses, but by no means is it viable for everyone. As for down time, hosting services take great measures not to go down, but a simple internet search will reveal multiple cases of extended outages for large cloud based/hosted services. As for agility, I need to be able to turn around servers under half an hour at times (extreme case), and under normal circumstances within an hour or two. Security is almost a joke these days with how often hosted services get hacked. Also, what about the recent postings even on ZDNet here about the Patriot Act? At least if I handle my own data, then I will be aware of when the government requests it. Cost is a toss up. Depending on requirements, cost could be cheaper; however, you can get nickeled and dimed to death. You have version 5 of a service hosted, and you want to upgrade to version 6, better get out that checkbook. Yeah, hosting has a long way to go before it is the standard for everyone.
      k.wohlgemuth
  • RE: IT is None of Your Business

    The problem with outsourcing your IT, is that you are stuck with that company, in terms of service, email and software versions, you name it. I was recently looking for a server myself, and a lot of them require you to still do backups and general server management.

    The other thing is businesses need computers no matter what, whether it's for access the cloud services or simply writing an email, and with that comes computer management and stupid question that need to be answered by an IT guy. So even outsourcing your servers externally, you still need someone there to help you with hardware and general IT support.

    Businesses need to grow, and 9 times out of 10 the software systems need to be developed to achieve this. Having someone else do this for you could mean that the IT team (the ones in India, people you don't know), makes decisions that don't align with the business and the way _you_ want it to work. Having your own development team means that you have someone who understands how your business works, can work to a common goal and can come up with business ideas you would of never thought of yourself.
    ziggyfish
    • RE: IT is None of Your Business

      @ziggyfish

      It really depends on which service you choose. There are companies that allow you to drive and others bring you along as a passenger.
      khess
    • I have to disagree... unless you're talking about an enterprise

      @ziggyfish <br><br>"You're stuck with that company?" No way. Most IT Services shops offer SLA's that stipulate they have a certain percentage of certified engineers. So, odds are, whatever you're running, they have <i>at least one</i> certified engineer to support it. Meaning, another shop can step in at any time and pick up where the other company left off. <br><br>And, unless a shop is out to shoot themselves in the foot, they won't 'require' you to purchase anything you don't want. A small community Bank I used to work at had such a service provider - everything was a la carte. Sure, they offered everything under the sun (and with bundles come discounts), but we could purchase what we wanted - intrusion prevention, firewall/router maintenance, and hardware purchasing. We handled patch mgmt, A/V, backups, and common troubleshooting to ourselves. For the 'oh ****' moments, most shops will offer pre-paid support.<br><br>And, I'm sorry, the only people needing dedicated dev staff <i>are</i> fortune 500; and even then the majority of those are contractors. If your core business is based on some custom written app by an in-house single guy or a couple of guys, <i>you</i> are the one needing to be replaced first, for allowing it to happen. For one, what if they get vindictive or greedy? Not to mention, what you pay those dev's (let's be modest and say 50-60k), can buy a <i>whole</i> lot in annual services. A company having it's own development team means they do what they're required, there's no incentive to do anything more. (as opposed to an outsourced developer who only benefits if he can come up with a solution you hadn't thought of, and he can sell you)<br><br>I would say unless you're fortune 500 or in an industry that mandates you have a certain # of staff per users (the banking industry)... outsourcing is the way to go.<br><br>And, yes, Ken, DR is among #1. If you stick with a provider long enough (even if you don't have your backups with them), they're more apt to be 'your Savior' in your time of need... maybe driving out with a couple of VM hosts to get you back in a day or two?<br><br>Of course, that's assuming you weren't smart and had them configure DR to where they can flip a switch, change some routing/firewall rules, and you're back in a matter of hours.
      UrNotPayingAttention