Third in a series of three! In other words you won't have to read this stuff anymore after this one. I will get back to the fun ones. I might try to make this one fun along the way. So I left off on the last one discussing some of the financial reasons and technical reasons to outsource your servers. This blog will be geared towards some ideas floating around in my head on what would be some good examples of outsourcing.
You have to step back and look at it from a different angle. If you aren't ready to outsource the whole farm just yet, then you can go about it in a couple of different ways. One, you can outsource your sandbox, development, and/or test environment. We all know that with SAS 70 and SOX you have to have all of these (or most of them anyway). And outsourcing might be a good way of getting them in place. The cool thing about outsourcing any or all of those are you have a pristine environment and if it does get polluted somehow you can just reload the OS quickly and painlessly and try to tear it up again. Outsourced servers are great for this type of scenario. You can even get a few servers and carve them up virtually and have even more toys to play with. Now, you can just go buy new servers and have this in house but when they break or they are obsolete then you get to buy more. With an outsource model you can buy 1 or 100 and have them for 1 month or 2 years, it's up to you, your needs, and your budget. You can add hardware, memory, change the OS daily, and only buy the License for a month instead of having to buy it outright when you buy your own servers. I personally believe this is a really good way to get acclimated to outsourcing and test the waters both with yourself and your boss. You always have to make sure they are ok with the way you are doing things. Well, sometimes anyway.
Another option with outsourcing is outsourcing production. Some bosses out in the world aren't ready for this yet, but they will be. They like keeping their data close by and having multiple copies and instances and USB keys with copies on it, etc. That's just the nature of data. Now we all know that you can have the same if not more redundancy in the outsourced model too, it is just hard to explain to them sometimes. I have to give them credit. Think about all the data in the world and how much of it we need to use every day. If folks like them didn't demand that we techies keep it safe the world might have a bad day, I know I would. I use tons of data everyday (might be a fun blog).
If you decide to outsource dev/test or production you have the ability to scale quickly and accordingly when dealing with technology. Not having to be bogged down by worrying about hardware lead times, dealing with accounts payable, the receiving dock, and all the other worries you have when buying hardware is a liberating feeling. I know what you are thinking; I have been over this side of it a few times so I will just leave it at that but the numbers and today's technology make it all come together and make good business sense.