IT as a Service – A Short Introduction

I have three kids graduating from high school either this year or next, so one thing I’m thinking about more and more is the cost of a college education. Very few things have skyrocketed as much as the cost of a college education over the last 30 years.  In the article “Is College Still Worth the Price?” Money Magazine highlighted what has happened from the period of 1982 to 2008. The Consumer Price Index increased by 108% meaning that the cost of living slightly more than doubled. During the same period, the cost of medicine increased by 251%.  College tuition prices jumped up by 439%!

So what does this have to do with IT as a Service (ITaaS)? That’s a great question – and I am going to get to that — but first we need to talk about technology spending.  I believe that one reason college tuition has risen much faster than the cost of living has to be technology. Fifty years ago all you needed was a textbook, a chalkboard, and mimeograph machine. How very different today! Campuses and classrooms are equipped with all sorts of technology, and the use of technology is both as a means and as an end. Technology is used to deliver the material and shape the learning experience, but just as importantly, students are learning how to use technology.

Technology touches almost every aspect of our businesses. For the most part, technology helps us get much more work done and helps us eliminate other expenses (e.g., fewer filing cabinets needed).  But it also seems that more and more of our budgets are technology-related expenses. In best case scenarios, we’re upgrading systems every three years. And when major upgrades are needed, we deal not only with larger expenses, but we deal with the associated risks. Many businesses forego upgrades as long as possible – it can just be too expensive, too disruptive, and perhaps even too risky. And this just exacerbates the situation.

But a new trend (or at least a repackaged trend) in the delivery of technology is helping with the management of technology and the technology budget – IT as a Service.  Without laying out all the complex details that define ITaaS here (we will do that in future articles), one thing is for certain – this new IT paradigm will help organizations focus more on their core competency and less on technology issues. Some of the key direct benefits include:

  • It can reduce capital purchase requirements.
  • It can speed up the provisioning of new services as business expands.
  • It can make it easier to ratchet down ongoing technology expenditures as business slows down.
  • It can alleviate the upgrade process and reduce the disruptive nature of upgrades.
  • It can simplify disaster recovery planning and execution.

Simply put, ongoing technology expenses can be more closely tied to business success and business cycles. If business booms, ask for more capacity and you’ll have it quickly. If business slows down, ask to have capacity scaled back. And capacity can be anything that has to do with technology resources – size of servers, software licensing including client licenses, bandwidth, etc.

IT as a Service won’t make your business more profitable by itself, but it certainly should make it easier for you to focus on your business.