"There are typically two camps in the Data Platform Managed Services marketplace – those who embrace it, and those who don’t.
Those who embrace Managed Services always see the value in partnering with a specialist firm. For the remainder, I listen and try to digest their reasons for their aversion for (in my opinion,) a cost-saving no brainer.
Here are a few of the reasons I hear from those who do not want to entertain a Managed outsource their Data Platform:
Objection number 1: I want to retain Control - “I have my DBA’s sitting across the room from me. I can manage them, see them, know what they’re doing and take full accountability. I cannot do this with a 3rd party.”
Objection number 2:The Costs will spiral and are hidden - “There are always hidden costs. My DBA’s can do both projects and operational work. A Managed Service scope is so restrictive.”
Objection number 3: My Data team require specific knowledge of my business – “my [internal] guys know my business inside out. In a Managed Service, there is no way they can understand my users, what’s important to the business or how our users use the applications. My business is too specialised and idiosyncratic”
Objection number 4: The Risk of change is too great. – “There might be a cost saving to be had, but my DBA team are doing a satisfactory job, not overstretched, and the risk of rocking the boat isn’t worth it”
Objection number 5: Security issues – “I cannot let an external provider have access to my data.”
Are the above really valid reasons? Firstly let’s break these down
Control – DBA work can vary from the mundane to the sublime. DBA’s in some organisations merely check backups, error logs, correct table spaces. Other DBA’s performance tune complex Oracle environments verging on the artistic.
Do you know what work your DBA actually does? In the world of automation, monitoring and advanced tools and features of new software, does your DBA do the same job he did 5 years ago when you hired him? How much of this day to day activity can be commoditised for saving purposes, freeing up resources to work on the more strategic projects? Control can be gained from ensuring day to day grind is commoditised, whilst more important business affecting work can be prioritised.
Costs will spiral and are hidden – This might be the case, but compared to hidden costs in PAYE or contractor resource, the costs are still significantly lower. Hidden costs in terms of Employer NI, sabbatical/absenteeism cover, training, desk space and equipment, to other technology and operational costs such as provisioning tools, monitoring tools, 24*7 cover – all need adding up, before a cost comparison can be drawn up. Once costs are compared, then service levels, availability and process efficiencies should be compared.
Specific Knowledge of the Environment - If the environment is that complex, then your internal resource should be working on strategy and the ongoing alignment of the database to the business. Every complex environment with a Data Platform still needs day to day maintenance which, given such an idiosyncratic environment, is too laborious for valuable internal resources to be concerned with.
Risk of Change is too great – The Data Platform is not an area to be taken lightly. The Database is often the heart and soul of an IT infrastructure where downtime means direct revenue loss. Other vendors may sex-up the criticality of a UC platform, Email, Telephony or Accounting packages, but often, none are more critical to the business than the ERP, CRM, Order Management systems a typical database underpins.
Oddly enough, the ‘I don’t want to risk outsourcing our Database Management’ argument is usually the reason clients use our Managed Services; because their data is too important to their business to be relied on by an internal team only. Using a Managed Service ensures backup for the team, operations and skills. The risk is not using a managed service
Security – Now this is probably, in some cases a reasonable argument against using a Managed Service. With regulations and specific industry requirements, its more often than not, OK to pull the Security card.
For those who aren’t restricted by regulation, a department head needs to think about where the risk resides. When you look at the stats, Data theft is almost always an internal threat –someone from inside the business looking to exploit their current or soon to be ex-employer. Using a Managed Service Provider mitigates some risk due to the fact that the MSP’s team are not directly involved with your day to day business. They will concentrate on the technical, operational work only.
I accept there is no silver bullet, and not all organisations need or can outsource the management of their Data Platform, whether it be Oracle or SQL Server.
However if there is a chance an organisation will gain efficiencies, significantly reduce costs by up to 60%, and take away some of the management/HR/recruitment/technical headaches of internal team, then surely this should be evaluated."