monitor service providers
Management

Monitoring your service providers

Outsourcing has been the rage for years now, and the outsourcing of computing resources to the cloud leads the way. And why not? It allows you to increase efficiency (focus on core business activities instead of running a datacenter), cut costs (you don’t have physical datacenter costs), reduce risk (or pass it on to the third party), and scale when needed with (hopefully) minimal cost and fuss.

This is why many companies opt for outsourced computing services, but does that mean you should think (or not think) about your datacenter? As in out of sight, out of mind? You have third-party outsourcers, and they take care of you, right? But do they have all of your best interest at heart? Possibly not. It’s interesting to note that, according to a recent survey, 32 percent of companies don’t evaluate their third party vendors. That should raise some red flags, at least I hope it does. Because let’s face it, what motivation does your third-party outsourcer have to help you to control your outsourcing costs? Think about that for a minute.

There are ways to do this but typically, they involve extra work for accountants and IT staff who are on your payroll now, and who are actually pretty busy doing what they do now. So do you hire more bodies to do it? That’s no fun. That means hiring full-time bodies dedicated to a project that you may or may not stick with long term – that’s not smart HR management. Alternatively, you could hire temporary staff or contract people to do it – but that means extra cost and possibly losing expertise that you need if-and-when you decide to maintain the activity and the personnel move on. So where does that leave you?

Well, there is some good news – there are tools out there that can help you keep tabs on your outsourced server costs. There are also some that will help you keep tabs on both your outsourced servers and your in-house severs – using the same toolset. One or two toolsets out there will even help you keep tabs on all your servers and your mainframe systems, if you have those, as well. So if you want IT cost transparency, you can get that. And really, what responsible CIO – or CFO for that matter – doesn’t want that?

The truth is that you can save a tremendous amount of money just by right-sizing your servers – both onsite and outsourced. What that means is reconfiguring your servers in such a way that they are provisioned with cores and memory to handle their expected workloads (with a suitable buffer). If you were to discover that most of your servers were over-provisioned by 50% or worse, that could translate into a serious amount of money protracted over a month… a year.  Datacenters will typically charge you a fixed base price per server, plus a price for each core, GB RAM, GB Disk, etc.  Now think about several thousand servers over-provisioned by 50% or more.

The situation on the mainframe side of the datacenter is somewhat different, and more complex. For one thing, mainframe costs are typically based on MSUs/MIPS and CPU usage and, more importantly, they are tallied either as a monthly total, or some variety of monthly peak, total peak hour, or other capacity-related metric.  Indeed, having the transparency into cost information, particularly for outsourcing scenarios is critical. Consider that IT organizations feel almost blind when dealing with mainframe monthly billing, and that goes doubly true for those who outsource their mainframe usage.

Finding ways to control outsourced mainframe costs is important whether you’re outsourcing or not.  Transparency into your mainframe data, however, can help you to eliminate usage glitches, shift workloads, adjust available capacity, control application resource usage, and much more. Adding business data (company name, department name, resource cost values, etc.) will greatly enhance your ability to stay on top of both outsourced and/or internal costs.

So who’s going to look out for you? This is up to you, and you need the right tools and expertise to do it. The tools are available; you just need to invest in some time to discover just how much money you’re leaving on your IT table.

Keith Allingham

Keith Allingham

Contributing Editor at Planet Mainframe
In addition to the planning, development and management of the Planet Mainframe blog, Keith serves as Marketing Manager at DataKinetics, monitoring business trends, and providing messaging for corporate and partner products and solutions. Previously, Keith has held consulting, management, marketing and technical positions with various tech companies and government organizations.
Keith Allingham

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