Mainframe Outsourcing Misconception #3: The Transition is Risky and My Business Can’t Afford the Downtime

Misperception #3 is that implementing the mainframe outsourcing arrangement entails a protracted period of downtime: an understandable concern.  In these days of doing more with less, it is usually the case that businesses are more dependent than ever before on the continuous operation of their information systems.  An interruption of any length is a possibility that needs to be considered carefully.

Moreover, transitions to an outsourcing arrangement typically set the tone for the entire outsourcing arrangement.  Disruptions can alienate users, of course, but an uneventful – some would say “transparent” – implementation of the strategy will reassure them about continued or improved service levels.

One way to think about the mainframe transition to a vendor is to liken it to a disaster recovery test.  Production equipment and processes will continue to be executed in your in-house setting while outsourced infrastructure and processes are being tested and validated.  Only after high confidence is reached in the new operating environment should a cutover be scheduled and executed.

For companies that have absolutely no window for downtime, high availability, or mirroring strategies can be used.  These support a seamless transfer of workload to the outsourcing vendor, with instantaneous reversal if any problems are detected.  Though more costly, such a high availability strategy, can eliminate any significant downtime.

Posted by Adrian

Mainframe Outsourcing Misconception #2: My Staff Doesn’t Have the Time, Objectivity or Skills to Plan and Implement the Outsourcing Decision

Another popular misconception about outsourcing, this one often has some basis in fact.  These days, staffing in IT departments, especially in mainframe and midrange systems, is very lean.  Technical staffers are often carrying the workload that was once supported by a greater number of personnel and, as a result, lack the time to do the important work of transition planning.  Some staff may even feel threatened by the outsourcing strategy or conflicted about supporting the decision.

Truth be told, experienced and professional mainframe outsourcing vendors understand the implementation hurdles and can perform the preponderance of the work preparing for and implementing the outsourcing arrangement.  Your staff’s involvement in planning and transitioning workload to the outsourcing arrangement may well be limited.  They may need to help collect technical details for defining the workload, be involved in the planning of the migration, and of course, they will be required to test the systems during the migration process.  Taken together, these activities may represent less than 10% of the overall transition workload.

Posted by Adrian

Mainframe Outsourcing Misconception #1: Outsourcing Will Solve All My IT Problems

This is the number 1 misconception about mainframe outsourcing.  Contrary to what you might read in a service provider’s marketing brochure, IT outsourcing is rarely a silver bullet solution to containing costs, reducing risks and ensuring top line growth for organizations.  It is, at best, a strategy arrived at after careful consideration of factors ranging from budgetary priorities, staff availability, facility and space issues, and operational performance.

Pressures to reduce cost alone generally do not justify the outsourcing decision.  As a rule, the best arrangements involve the outsourcing of mainframe operations and processes that are routine and can be delivered more cost-effectively by a service provider.  That said, other factors that may influence the outsourcing decision may have a legitimate basis in business priorities and budgetary pressures.  A clear-headed analysis of both the rewards and the risks of the decision must be made, and objectives must be set that can be used to evaluate options and to ensure that the expected benefits are being realized.

Posted by Adrian