When temporary becomes permanent

In many IT infrastructures today, you can probably find some technologies that were deployed as temporary stopgaps but for some reason were never replaced with more permanent technologies.

An example of this would be putting in place a specialized appliance rather than a full-function management product, because the appliance solves a problem in the short term and it’s much easier to implement. Time and again, IT organizations have to make these kinds of trade-off decisions because they lack resources and time.

Often, the IT organization doesn’t get around to replacing the temporary technology. The Y2K bug was a classic example of temporary products that never were replaced. When programmers wrote the code that became problematic for Y2K, they expected that the software would be rewritten or replaced by the time the year 2000 rolled around. As it turned out, the code was never redone or replaced.

Similarly, some organizations may be viewing management service providers (MSP) or application service providers (ASP) as temporary solutions to a current problem. These are typically quick solutions with low monthly cost spread out over a period of time. This short-term view will affect the amount that these companies are willing to pay in up-front costs for the service. In addition, these companies will later require a migration strategy for moving from a hosted service back to an in-house function. Some independent software vendors that offer hosted solutions currently provide the migration path that these short-term strategy companies require. For example, Compuware’s Point Forward hosted service allows its users to download scripts that are created for them through the service.

Other organizations view the service providers as a longer-term solution. Significant up-front costs and development time can be acceptable to this type of customer. For customers with this long-term view of service providers, the viability of the service provider is a paramount issue. While the costs of services are spread out over a period of time, making it seem more affordable, users may not have the flexibility that they would have if the services were provided in-house. This is a trade-off that many companies are willing to make. The long-term view is held by companies that would rather use their scarce resources on their core competencies, rather than on what are viewed as extraneous issues.

Which category do you fall under? If you’re using a service provider, whether it’s an ASP or an MSP, I’d like to hear whether you view the service provider as just a temporary solution, or a long-term solution for your IT organization. If it’s short-term, how long do you plan on using the service?

In addition to that, I’d like to hear from those of you who use MSP/ASP services about your experiences with these service providers. Are you satisfied with the level and quality of service that you receive? Do they provide you with enough of a breadth of services? If not, what would you have liked for them to provide that wasn’t offered? Finally, what about the service-level agreements that were offered? Were they adequate for your needs?

This story, "When temporary becomes permanent " was originally published by Network World.

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