Managing cloud infrastructure and applications in-house may seem like the most straightforward approach to IT management, but with technology evolving at an unprecedented rate, organizations taking the DIY approach are likely to feel the burden of keeping up and self-management.
That burden can be quite significant if IT teams are managing data centers or multi-platform environments that require specific expertise at each layer of the infrastructure stack. Then there is the difficulty in finding and retaining top talent; the brightest stars, of course, will always be attracted to organizations with the latest technology and a robust career path.
By leveraging a strategic partner, organizations can access the process knowledge, people and technology they need, when they need it, relieving the burden of managing day-to-day operations, maintaining security and optimizing applications and infrastructure. This allows companies to stay focused on high value business initiatives, like accelerating the delivery of new products and services and delivering superior customer experiences.
Focus on your business
That’s exactly what Cole Parmer did. A leading global source of laboratory and industrial products, instrumentation and equipment, Cole Parmer was divested from its parent company in 2014, and had a very brief window to migrate all its systems out of its parent company’s data centers and deploy on entirely new infrastructure.
“I was looking for a partner that was going to be flexible, enough, knowledgeable enough and aggressive enough to help us meet that timeframe,” said Bill Berry, VP of Information Technology at Cole-Parmer.
Once that was complete, the company pursued a growth strategy centered on acquisitions. According to Berry, quickly consolidating the various systems of the new companies Cole-Parmer acquired (e.g., networking, email and identity and access management) posed significant challenges.
“This wasn’t easily done,” said Berry. “There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work. Infrastructure, phone systems, networks, emails, and then the core ERPs … It’s been really helpful to have Rackspace, letting us focus on the business aspect and how we integrate the products and the people in those acquisitions.
Assessing your IT needs
To determine whether to use internal people vs. partner skills, ask, “Does this activity differentiate my business and create valuable intellectual property, or is it a commodity capability that keeps the lights on?” If it’s the former, hire internally, train and build those skills. If it is the latter, consider managed services.
Once you’re able to refocus internal resources on high business value add initiatives, another value of a modern IT platform — such as a hybrid or multi-cloud environment with the latest devops tools chains and processes — is that it should make your organization more attractive to top talent, allowing you to further accelerate your ambitions and meet those business differentiating goals.
By assessing in-house application management and infrastructure needs, including both public and private cloud, versus managed options, organizations can determine an optimum use of internal resources vs. leveraging highly skilled professional and managed services.
Simplifying vendor relationship management is also key, to reduce complexity and costs. A simpler vendor management system can also help optimize economics while freeing up people to work on higher value business initiatives.
The benefits of an expert partner
By creating a strategy for managing IT talent needs and shift your focus to high value business initiatives, you can:
- Accelerate delivery of new products and services – a must for any leading business to remain competitive, to lead, and to delight customers. An agile, highly talented team is required to build new applications more easily that are key to accelerating new products and services.
- Deliver superior customer experiences. The ability to accelerate innovation and customer experiences is the lifeblood of keeping and expanding your customer base with word-of-mouth and other organic promotion that significantly reduces costs of churn and advertising.
- Optimize economics of IT, product and service delivery and reduced cycle times. Managed clouds can save big on operational costs vs legacy due to improved IT processes, tool chains, a skilled partner, and reduced complexity.
“It’s really helpful to have a partner that has the experience,” said Cole Parmer’s Berry. “One who can bring us along to make sure we minimize the disruption of those transformational activities from a business perspective, making sure that the business is comfortable with what we’re going to do, as well as helping the internal IT staff have the know how to implement it as effectively as possible.”