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Multi-Year IT Contracts for Hybrid Cloud Delivery

CIO Priorities for 2013

Outsourcing the IT operations, support and associated infrastructure maintenance has been the norm for large enterprises over the last decade. Typically the multi-year IT outsourcing contracts cover the following aspects:

  • Application Development Services: These will be the set of resources and other costs, like environment, required to perform the custom development of various applications and sometimes customization and configuration of COTS products.
  • Application Testing Services: Even though testing is covered as part of development, to make this step more independent most enterprises outsource testing activities as a separate entity.
  • Application Sustain Services: This normally constitutes a biggest portion of outsourcing contracts, such that the applications are running without disruption to businesses and any incidents are handled within the defined SLA Levels. Also Sustain Services are governed by the well-established process of ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library).
  • Infrastructure Management Services: These will cover the hosting, operations and support of servers and storage, network infrastructure systems. Sometimes they may be hosted in the data centers of the enterprise or hosted with external service providers.

Multi-Year IT Contracts in the Cloud Era
Over the last two years, most enterprises reinvented themselves with the Hybrid Delivery model, whereby the business processes have been realized with a combination of the traditional data center, private clouds and public clouds. Also SaaS (Software as a Service) has become a major force in supporting enterprise business capability needs.

CIOs need to re-assess the cost and delivery models of most multi-year IT contracts due to the following reasons.

  • Unlike standard sizing techniques like Function Point Analysis that are meant for large-scale development projects, there is no universally accepted estimation and sizing techniques available for these large outsourcing deals. Most of the time vendor organizations adopt a combination of multiple legacy techniques to come together with a final pricing model. Most of the time factors like the number of FTEs incumbent vendors already deployed, ticket volume and similar factors play a major role.
  • The estimation techniques adopted a couple of years of ago, before SaaS and Cloud become mainstream, have become largely irrelevant in now. As most of the business processes that have been served in-house have now been brokered by the enterprises and hence the supporting needs will vary drastically.
  • Enterprises have to shift their custom development budgets towards SaaS evaulation or cloud-based integration (CBI) techniques.
  • Budget allocations have to accommodate for proof of concept and innovation enabled by areas like Big Data and real-time analytics

From the above points it is a priority for CIOs to evaluate the multi-year IT contracts and shift the priorities from certain areas and move them to other areas so that the capability of IT to serve the business is adapted to the new realities.

Areas Affected by the Hybrid Cloud Delivery Model
The following are the typical line items in a multi-year IT contract that needs to be revisited so that their allocations are fully justified.

  • Problem Management: In the past much of the time has been spent on fixing the production ABENDs of various custom development code. However, with SaaS and cloud usage these are expected to be reduced a lot. Also in a SaaS delivery model IT service personnel from the enterprises will not be responsible to fix the issues, rather direct them to the SaaS vendors.
  • Production Job Management: Maintaining production jobs, scheduling them, monitoring them and restarting them have been the core activities of many production support staff in custom application management. However with automation being the key of most cloud IaaS providers or private cloud platforms, much of these tasks have been simplified and can be revisited.
  • Preventive & Adaptive Maintenance: Earlier application support staff needs to work with multiple third-party vendors to ensure that proper versions of the operating systems and patches are maintained, so that the applications don't break in the future. However, with the adoption of PaaS (Platform as a Service) and SaaS (Software as a Service) much of the effort spent on this can be shifted to the cloud providers.
  • Service Continuity Management: Setting up the recovery tests and testing for disaster recovery have been a daunting task in the past. In fact due to the complexities of this operation we have seen some enterprises don't even have proper disaster recovery sites. However cloud has simplified the creation of disaster recovery sites in different geographies and provisioning them has become much easier.
  • License Management: The enterprise licensing model in the COTS and Custom applications era is much different that the pricing models adopted by SaaS applications and hence there requires a revised planning on this front.
  • Application Development Services: In the past enterprises used to give Service Requests for custom development of various applications and a fixed pool of resources are typically allocated for the development, however the adoption of SaaS, PaaS and Cloud Based Integration will certainly alter the allocation of resources towards this. Also much of the budget allocations for new large scale custom development efforts can be revisited if the enterprises decided to utilize SaaS as a service delivery model.

Summary
An exhaustive list of services that are part of the multi-year IT contracts may vary from enterprise to enterprise; however, one of the important priorities for CIOs is to revisit them and allocate their resources appropriately towards business capabilities and innovation which is one of the major enablers of the hybrid delivery model.

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