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Is managing your UC estate in-house worthwhile?

Back in the day when I first started my apprenticeship with Ericsson shortly after leaving school, a mate of mine announced he was going to work for a rival called Plessey (a once great UK telecoms equipment manufacturer). Pleased to hear he’d be working in telecoms too, I was surprised to hear him say he was joining them as a car mechanic, considering that the company didn’t make or sell cars...

He went on to explain that Plessey had its own motor transport pool and serviced its own cars. The directors all had Jaguars and he was going to specialise on them, specifically its ZF automatic transmissions.

So what has this to do with UC, the cloud or my own particular area of responsibility in managed and professional services? Well the story of my friend got me thinking about the parallels in ICT.

For years now vendors have sold communications technology to end-user organisations, who then invest heavily in the people, processes and systems needed to manage and maintain that technology themselves. There will usually be various degrees of outside assistance, but almost all IT departments retain a hefty weight of expertise in house to manage the suppliers, as well as handle the myriad upgrade programmes, re-configuration demands and desktop support requests.

And the result? IT teams are always busy, always working evenings and weekends, budgets are stretched and there is never enough time.

But isn’t that a bit like Plessey all those years back deciding they’d maintain their own Jaguars and offering formal mechanics apprenticeships rather than concentrating on its core business?  At risk of causing controversy – of course it is! Though in practice, organisations haven’t always had a great choice in whether or not they want or need to get highly involved in the practicalities of their ICT. But today that certainly need not be the case. Most vehicles are leased as a package and even the most automotive literate amongst us don’t bother to service or repair them. They are there to serve us, not to be serviced by us. And so it increasingly is with ICT. 

The fact is that today the only people who ever really fix a fault are the original equipment manufacturers, and that will invariably be in the software and handled remotely. Most other ‘faults’ occur in configuration – only of course they aren’t truly faults and the easiest way to overcome them is to limit their possibility of occurrence through a combination of good design, training and experience.

It’s a bit harsh, but generally speaking keeping less familiar hands away from the kit is the best way to ensure its performance.

And that’s where modern managed service providers and the advent of the cloud come in. Complex compliant communications solutions integrated within and delivered from the cloud, allied to well-designed connectivity services, will see the end-user gaining maximum benefit from always-on services, where ever they happen to choose to work.

Managed communications services delivered from the cloud provide a host of benefits – these extend from security, reliability, flexibility, functionality, integration and cross-connectivity to economies of scale that simply cannot be matched on premise. At the same time, changes can be made centrally, securely and in highly controlled and compliant fashion – and all the while IT administrators can happily survey web dashboards confirming the performance of their increasingly virtual kit.

Now, where did I put that torque wrench?