bbsguru asks: "Our Government agency has around 100 independent divisions that share a dozen national applications and a private WAN. We are working to consolidate some of these applications (e-mail, SQL databases, specialized web services), and are facing a familiar choice. One option is to contract out data hosting, e-mail server hosting, and so forth to various vendors (with negotiated SLA's and all the best guarantees, of course). We have already started doing this for our private WAN-to-World gateways, VPN management, and one major SQL application, each with a different vendor, so far. Others are advocating the creation of a national agency-owned facility, where employees would perform these functions instead of contractors. Network management, IDS, data replication and so forth, for all the consolidated applications under one umbrella. Is a series of contractors really the way to go, or are there real benefits to keeping it in house?"
The costs are always a factor, but the one-way nature of the contractor choice is also weighing in this decision. Some are concerned that if the expertise to create and manage these highly custom databases and services is farmed out to contractors, there will be no other choice in the future. Trouble is, as we evaluate our options, the process of contracting out bits of the whole is already underway. With each new contract, one more service to be brought into a datacenter is lost, making the whole thing less practical. Are we swimming upstream here?"