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IT as Service with David and Goliath

If you aim to procure IT infrastructure, software and operations as a service, you have to be prepared to hand over responsibility. But how to make sure that your organization’s digital success is in good hands? This article offers a few thoughts for SMEs on choosing the right IT service provider.

For many SMEs, in-house IT operations are becoming increasingly demanding and costing companies valuable resources that they could otherwise devote to their core tasks. However, anyone who believes that outsourcing will eliminate all their problems is overestimating the capacities of external service providers. Nobody understands a company’s processes and peculiarities better than its own workforce. External parties rely on this knowledge to help shape IT in the interest of the organization. In order to effectively align with future service providers, the SME first needs to establish the role of service manager.

Not without a specification sheet
It can be extremely frustrating when the clients and providers miss each other. A specification sheet can help you organize your ideas and compare various offers. The content should be open to vendor standards, but not too open. You want to make sure that the various offers remain easily comparable. Don’t forget to include your service level objectives, as these will provide a basis for the future SLA. Remember that only measurable services can be checked for quality.

Hyperscaler ready
Five cloud providers dominate the world market. They provide highly standardized and automated service products that perform well and are configurable through portals. But they are not without their headaches! You will want to find a provider who can deal with the following issues:

  • Data sovereignty abroad: Although some big companies with subsidiaries will use Swiss data centres, these centres are still offshoots of US companies. In March 2018, the US Congress passed the CLOUD Act, which obliges American IT service providers to grant the authorities access to data even if it is stored outside the US.
  • Lack of individuality: Highly standardized products leave no room for special requirements (e.g. service levels, operating systems, hybrid approaches).
  • Insufficient support: Cloud giants are not interested in SME processes. Cloud portals are self-service oriented and require internal IT knowledge. If an SME is not interesting in maintaining this IT knowledge internally, it will not be able to navigate the cloud--not without external help.

The Swiss approach
Most Swiss managed services/cloud providers don’t even try to imitate the hyperscalers. The “locals” are defined by advice and support. Unlike the Goliaths, local service providers understand their customers, develop IT with them and respond to individual needs. In the end, if an international cloud provider’s product makes more sense for the customer, then it can simply be integrated into the overall solution.

Conclusion: David and Goliath hand in hand
Any company that wishes to outsource should not expect to give up its IT responsibility entirely. It will need to appoint an internal conductor to orchestrate. IT as a service requires planning, which includes evaluating the service provider. If an SME would rather forego its internal IT knowledge, then working with a major cloud provider directly is out of the question. Instead, it should look to local specialists to assume the role of service integrator and trusted advisor. In turn, these specialists should not shy away from using products from the cloud giants. David and Goliath hand in hand? Now that’s a good solution!