7 hot IT outsourcing trends — and 7 going cold

As IT organizations become more strategic, so too do their partnerships with IT outsourcing providers. Digital transformation, automation, and the data revolution are not just shaking up how IT operates, they are greatly impacting the kind — and quality — of services under contract with IT outsourcing firms.

Here is a look at the technologies, strategies and shifting customer demands shaking up IT outsourcing right now and the once-hot developments that are beginning to cool. If you’re looking to leverage an IT outsourcing partnership, or want to make good on the market for IT outsourcing as a provider yourself, the following heat index of IT outsourcing trends should be your guide.

Heating up: Rapid software development

IT organizations are increasingly looking for partners who can work with them as they embrace agile development and devops approaches. “Organizations are rapidly transforming to agile enterprises that require rapid development cycles and close coordination between business, engineering and operations,” says Steve Hall, a partner with sourcing consultancy Information Services Group (ISG). “Global delivery requires a globally distributed agile process to balance the need for speed and current cost pressures.”

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Cooling down: IT services silos

As companies embrace new development methodologies and infrastructure choices, many standalone IT service areas no longer make sense. “In the past, companies may have sourced app services from one provider and secured cloud services from another,” says Ollie O’Donoghue, senior research analyst with HfS Research. “Now, thanks to new methodologies like devops and the increased ‘cloudification’ of business infrastructure, the lines between distinct IT services are blurring. Service providers and clients are far more likely to procure a blend of IT services to deliver business outcomes from a single vendor [rather than] contracting segments of IT out to a range of suppliers.”

Digital transformation is driving demand away from compartmentalization and silos of service delivery and toward frictionless integration, says David J. Brown, global head of KPMG’s Shared Services and Outsourcing Advisory.

Some IT service providers are becoming one-stop shops for their clients through brokerage services or partnership agreements. “Offering clients a full spectrum of services from best-in-class providers is enabling providers to broaden the scope of their offerings, and clients to select the technologies and services that suit them,” says O’Donoghue. “Even large providers which formerly cornered the market with proprietary technology are starting to champion vendor agnosticism in a bid to offer clients impartial, best-in-class IT services.”

Heating up: Cloud integration

Enterprises are moving more workloads to the public cloud, but continuing to run certain applications in dedicated private cloud environments for security, regulatory or competitive reasons. So they’re looking for providers that can seamlessly manage and integrate their hybrid cloud environments, says Rahul Singh, managing director with business transformation and outsourcing consultancy Pace Harmon. “Increasing adoption of software-as-a-service models for specific applications (such as Salesforce and Workday) creates further operational complexity for enterprises,” Singh adds.

Cooling down: Traditional remote infrastructure management

Over the past decade, the offshore delivery of infrastructure management services — from network services and help desk support to server maintenance and desktop management — became mainstream. But remote infrastructure management (RIM) is no longer a growth industry for IT services providers; it can’t compete on price with the public cloud, where adoption rates are growing at compound rates of 25 percent a year. “Almost every enterprise is taking a cloud-first strategy,” explains ISG’s Hall. “Service providers are shifting to cloud management services; but with the double whammy of integrated devops, even this is a short-lived venture.”

Heating up: Talent wars

An increase in consultancy-led engagements and the subsequent demand for more specialists and advisors in IT outsourcing is inspiring IT service providers to turn their attention to talent acquisition and retention, according to analysts at HfS Research. “The challenge of recruiting and retaining the talent necessary to deliver high-quality services has been brewing for some time,” says O’Donoghue. “The spectrum of skills in demand is becoming more focused, [and] providers seeking to compete in the modern marketplace will need to work harder to attract talent.”

Cooling down: Labor arbitrage campaigns

Sourcing IT services in the lowest-cost locations is no longer a competitive advantage, as clients demand use of automation and tools to drive efficiencies instead. “Organizations are driving massive productivity improvements through technology, not labor,” says ISG’s Hall. “Developing a solution that is based on low-cost labor won’t even get a CIO meeting in today’s market. Top IT leaders are driving massive digital transformation projects, and most service providers have adapted their message and core capabilities to be more than low-cost labor.”

Geography is becoming increasingly irrelevant to outsourcing decisions, says Marcos Jimenez, CEO of Softtek US and Canada. “Customers demand providers who are responsive, flexible, innovative and able to leverage emerging technology and solve business problems. They don’t care about where the work is done.”

Heating up: Automation results

Cost savings based on human labor are being supplanted by those delivered by so-called “digital labor.” Enterprises are demanding automation capabilities from their outsourced providers. “Automation not only provides increased efficiencies, but also brings proactive capabilities to deal with issues before they become business-impacting events, which adds significant value to enterprises beyond the typical cost reduction opportunities,” says Singh of Pace Harmon.

Automation is taking hold across middle and back-office functions that have been traditionally outsourced. “If you want to compete, you must automate,” agrees ISG’s Hall. “This is causing disruption in traditional sourcing models and driving service providers to make big bets and commitments on future pricing.”

Innovative clients and providers are taking an “automation first” approach, says Rajeev Tyagi, chief operating officer for Softtek US and Canada. “Rather than identifying human activities within an IT or business process that can be automated, enterprises will use digital labor as the starting point,” he says.

Cooling down: Automation hype

The results of automation are also becoming more transparent. Service providers are now expected to detail the iterative efficiencies that automation will create for clients, says Jamie Snowdon, chief data officer for HfS Research. Unfortunately for providers, that means they can no longer keep the savings to themselves. “Undoubtedly, as newer forms and blends of automation technologies enter the marketplace, vendors will be increasingly required to share the benefits with their well-informed clients,” says Snowdon.

Heating up: Captive offshore delivery centers

With technology becoming a competitive differentiator across industries, every company is becoming a tech company — from automakers to oil and gas providers to retailers. And that’s leading a broader swath of previous IT outsourcing customers to set up their own captive technology services delivery centers offshore, says Hall of ISG. “To compete and scale, enterprises want ‘badged’ resources, which means captives are back as a popular model to accelerate the adoption of automation and maintain the intellectual property for cutting-edge solutions.”

Cooling down: Low-cost service desks and call centers

Likewise, in an era that values superior customer and employee experiences, companies are placing more emphasis on the resources and technology employed to operate their internal service desks and customer-facing call centers.

“Call center consolidation and the desire to partner with strategic vendors continues, but call volumes are still high,” says Jimit Arora, a partner at Everest Group. “While virtual agents and chat bots are becoming prevalent, we see companies being reluctant to expose customers to these technologies just yet. They don’t want blow-back akin to interactive voice response system.”

Meanwhile, “the workplace of the future has made the service desk relevant again,” says Hall. “ CIOs and IT leaders quickly realized that outsourcing the ‘face to the business’ to a third party may not be in their best interest. Look for more creative, on-site and integrated solutions as organizations integrate a complete workplace solution into their delivery models.”

Heating up: Populism and protectionism

Concerns about U.S. immigration reform and the impact of Brexit are driving some IT and business services back to domestic locations, says Stan Lepeak, director of KPMG’s Shared Services and Outsourcing Advisory.

Cooling down: H-1B panic

However, anxiety about potential changes to the H-1B program in the U.S. has been allayed — for now. “The Trump Administration’s early saber rattling appears to have sparked renewed interest in artificial intelligence and robotic processing as ways to reduce cost and eliminate jobs without offshoring,” says Dan Masur, partner in Mayer Brown’s Technology Transactions practice in Washington, D.C. “[But] other administration policies and objectives appear to have eclipsed outsourcing issues, at least for the moment.” Many of the biggest users of H-1B visas were already increasing their American hiring prior to the last election.

Heating up: Business-based metrics

One of the biggest changes facing the IT services industry in this period of business transformation is how to quantify services. Contracts are shifting from traditional input or transaction models to those built on business metrics andresults. “We’ll soon see a move from traditional arrangements — like FTE models — pushing beyond convoluted outcome-focused metrics and into the heart of the client companies with business-linked metrics,” says Snowdon of HfS Research. “We can expect more deals to focus on specific outcomes measured by business metrics.”

Client expectations are rapidly evolving. HfS analysts are seeing client engagements begin with a particular business challenge, with prospective vendors asked to tailor a solution to them. The result is an increase in consultancy-led engagements, which carefully design solutions for the customer.

Cooling down: IT services industry growth

Secular forces have driven the outsourcing industry into significant deceleration. The results of the second quarter of 2017 have yet to be announced, but the top 20 publicly traded IT services companies saw 2.1 percent year-on-year organic growth in the first quarter, according to the Everest Group. “This is the lowest growth number in the last three years, and represents an industry that is witnessing significant pressures due to digital technologies, pervasive automation, new business models, and immigration-related concerns,” says Everest Group’s Arora.

The top five Indian IT companies have experienced seven straight quarter of growth deceleration with a forecast growth rate of less than seven percent over the next 12 months, according to Arora. The key will be to evolve from arbitrage-based models to those built for digital transformation, which will require all providers to spend capital on new capabilities.

Source:  cio.com-7 hot IT outsourcing trends — and 7 going cold


What’s The Difference Between “Partnering” And “Outsourcing”?

The terms “partnering” and “outsourcing” are thrown about so frequently …. and in so many contexts …. that it’s hard to nail down an exact definition for either.

These two practices are becoming ever so common among the business community, and although the distinction between them is becoming increasingly blurred, they do have distinguishing traits, which bear consequential benefits and risks.

It has been said that the practice of outsourcing should be looked upon not as a simple customer-vendor relationship, but rather as a partnership where the engaging parties mutually benefit from their agreement. While this may be a sound management practice, and while outsourcing shares many of the same characteristics with strategic alliances, outsourcing should be recognized as its own distinctive tactic.

Outsourcing is the contracting of services via monetary means in order to minimize or limit the resources that would normally be required to perform business functions internally, thus reducing costs.

A partnership, on the other hand, does not necessarily involve monetary payment from one firm to another, or a binding contractual agreement between two companies.

Rather, it is a partnership in which business entities collaborate with one another in order to bring about mutual benefits. This partnership can range from a loose and informal one, to more formal joint ventures, which involve legal measures to set parameters. Such alliances might include practices such as the partnering of manufacturers and retailers in order to reduce logistics costs, or the engagement of hardware and software development firms to create competitive advantage through synergy. Indeed, there are almost infinite ways in which strategic alliances can be formed.

The point here is that outsourcing and the formation of strategic alliances, while similar in some ways, are normally used to achieve different outcomes and involve different methods of binding between the participants.

Partnering will be used more and more in these hard times. If I outsource a job to you, then you are paid a fee to complete your services regardless of the outcome of the project under which your services were rendered. If on the other hand we partner on a project, while you are not a partner per se, I would expect you to provide your services contingent upon the success of our project. If the project failed, you would not get a fee, but if the project were a success, you would expect a much larger fee for your services than if you’d been hired as an outsource.

Source: small-business-resources-cafe.blogspot.com-What’s The Difference Between “Partnering” And “Outsourcing”?

7 Questions You Need To Ask Yourself Before Taking On A Big Project

Seven years. That’s how long filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos plugged away at Making a Murderer before they partnered with Netflix, and the series became a true crime sensation. While the idea of being an overnight sensation is nice, most big ideas need lots of time to develop. But how can you tell whether your new business idea or project is worth sinking months or years of your life into? Here are seven questions that might help you set your sights.

1. Can I State My Specific Goal For This Project?

While turning a profit (or at least breaking even) is a straightforward goal, some projects require a more specific finish line. For Chicago writer Jonathan Eig, he initially had the idea for a biography of Muhammad Ali in the spring of 2013 but would need to craft a solid proposal in order to sell the idea. “I knew there wasn’t an authoritative biography of Ali out there. I’d gotten a sense that I’d get his ex-wife to cooperate, and I believed that there was a ton of new material out there that hadn’t been seen before,” he says. His eventual proposal netted him a contract by February 2014, and his book, Ali: A Life, comes out in October 2017.

Minneapolis painter Megan Rye began working on a large-scale series that documents her brother’s time serving in the Iraq war in 2003, which led to her first solo show in 2007. For her, the convergence of critical and collector interest is “the gold standard.” While just one or the other, she says, is “nice,” it’s not sustainable to only have critical interest, but “if you only have financial support, your work isn’t necessarily going to be remembered.”

Being able to articulate your goals is also essential for raising money as you go. Rye likens grants, which should be applied for before a project is completed or even fully begun, to the lottery: “You can’t win a grant unless you apply.” And the grant you apply for now may beget more funding down the line. Chicago documentarian Margaret Byrne received a $120,000 MacArthur grant for her film Raising Bertie, which she filmed for six years. The grant hooked her up with the Chicago production company Kartemquin Films and put her on the radar to receive other grants, including one for $50,000 from the Ford Foundation. “I wouldn’t have stopped making the film, but I don’t know where I would be without the support of MacArthur. That’s what made the film expand and enable me to work with Kartemquin.”

2. Can I Break It Down Into Milestones?

When a project is sprawling, it’s important to build in milestones, if only to avoid freaking out. Eig was excited but also terrified at the prospect of writing a definitive biography of Ali. “It seemed like more than one person could handle, because there’s so much information on him out there, with so many people to talk to. You have to follow your heart but also be analytical about it.” To avoid feeling a sense of overwhelmed panic before starting a project, Eig starts small. “I just start with reading some books, and file some FOIA requests.”

For Byrne, the shorter-term goal was to have a 10-minute demo of Raising Bertieto sketch out her characters and the intention of the film. “That will give funders a solid idea of what you’re trying to do, even if you’re in the beginning stages.” She was able to pull one together in four months.

Rye kept her eye on the prize by keeping exhibition deadlines in mind. “Without exhibitions, I don’t know how anyone would ever complete a body of work. You can endlessly improve and tinker.”

In mid-2012, Steve McFadden quit his job as a mechanic to find a more meaningful career. He started Revolution Coffee Roasters that opened in summer 2013. It’s growing and doing well, but slowly. He maintains his sanity by scheduling six-month check-ins. “We’ve planned this in short-term increments so we can evaluate, ‘This is where we are right now, this is what we can budget for, and this is how lean we’ll have to be this period.’”

3. Do I Have Trusted Sources That Will Provide Me With Valuable Feedback As I Proceed?

Katie Mehnert wasn’t sure at first that her idea was a good one. In April 2014, she left her job as the director of competence, capability, and culture at BP to take a career break. She tinkered with an idea she’d had the year before, and in March 2015, created Pink Petro, a social media platform created for women professionals in the energy industry. “The more I started taking ideas from my head and really putting them out there, people were like ‘Yeah!’ And before you knew it we were on. People were calling and saying, ‘I heard you have a new gig!’ and I was like, ‘We haven’t formed a company yet.’”

While it can be tempting to play your cards close to your vest on a project that’s not a guaranteed success, Byrne says, “It’s important that you do not make your film in a bubble.” Getting other perspectives is key for her, because ultimately, “You’re not making the film for yourself, you’re making the film for an audience.” For her, showing several rough cuts of Raising Bertie in Chicago and North Carolina elicited key feedback that helped shape the film.

Rye agrees. “If you’re applying for shows, talking to curators or collectors and no one is interested, you’ll know, ‘Is this going to be a passion project where I’m alone in my basement slaving away and no one will see this?’” Had she not shared her work as it went, her entire life might have been different: The immediate interest her work garnered led to artistic representation. “That project changed the trajectory of my whole career,” one she had assumed would lead to a life in academia, and not as a working artist.

4. How Long Can I Get By On Little To No Money?

“I think I’m a horrible business person,” Byrne admits. By necessity, she chose to turn down other jobs in order to devote herself to Raising Bertie, which didn’t receive funding until four years into filming. While she was able to take on a few freelance projects while filming, making money wasn’t her priority. “In some ways it can’t be if you are taking the time and the patience to tell these stories.”

Eig’s projects involve a leap of financial faith as well. “When you’re in the proposal phase, you don’t know if somebody else might come up with the same idea, or maybe nobody wants to buy it at all.” Even when a project is bought, he says, “There will be years when I’m between signing the contract and delivering that I don’t get paid. One year I made $10,000: That was my contribution to my family.”

With Pink Petro, Mehnert went two years without pay. “I wanted to demonstrate the passion I had for the business. I’m taking a salary now–I’m not earning what I was earning before, but I didn’t set out to replace my income. I wanted to do something that was meaningful. I’m a firm believer that when you’re passionate and you have meaning in your life, the payback comes.”

5. Is My Family On Board With This?

Every married person interviewed for this story cited their supportive spouse as a reason that they were able to chase their dreams. McFadden’s wife has provided both emotional and financial support. “I’ve seen many other business where it became too much pressure on somebody’s marriage and they had to make a choice–either this is going to be destructive to my family, or I have to call it quits. Fortunately, I have somebody that is solidly in my corner and believes in what I’m doing.”

Mehnert’s husband was a little incredulous when she told him her plan for a career change, but she said that the challenge actually strengthened their relationship as they evaluated their finances and needs. “I tell young women all the time, ‘You’ve got to marry right because this is a sacrifice for a longer term opportunity.’ To my husband’s credit, he saw way more in it than I did.”

6. Could I Walk Away If I Had To?

Nobody wants to spend time on something only to have it lead nowhere, but it’s better to pull the plug rather than try to force it halfheartedly. Byrne had to walk away from a source on her current documentary project after following him for six months. “I decided it wasn’t the story that I needed to tell,” she says.

Eig similarly pursued a biography proposal that he ended up dropping. “That was painful,” he says, but a dearth of material, a less-than-promising sales prospective and a simple lack of fondness for his source ended his relationship with his project. He likens a long-term project to dating. “You have to decide, am I going to stick with this girl or not? There’s things you like and things you don’t like, and at some point you get to a moment, I can’t take it anymore, I’m out of here.”

7. Can I Handle A Rough Ride?

Perhaps you just had a baby or endured the death of a loved one. The point is, there’s nothing wrong with admitting that perhaps it’s not the best time to take something on that might cause heartache or stress.

With a long-term gamble, Eig says, “You have to embrace the uncertainty, and to come up with a good idea, you have to go through a lot of bad ideas. You hope those bad ideas don’t take you too far astray, but they do sometimes.” For his 2014 book, The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution, Eig persevered despite his agent telling him people thought the book would be “small to medium-sized” at best. He reasoned, “They could be right, they could be wrong, but it’s an important enough subject, and I will feel good for telling the story, because I think it needs to be told.”


Source: Fast Company-7 Questions You Need To Ask Yourself Before Taking On A Big Project

To choose the right PaaS vendor, know thyself

A critical enabler of enterprise application modernization is development automation products broadly described as platform as a service. These are public or private cloud services that build upon low-level infrastructure services and consist of a collection of middleware services. PaaS offerings target a broad spectrum of users, from traditional developers to spreadsheet jockeys and Salesforce gurus. This dichotomy makes it difficult to assess a PaaS vendor.

PaaS vendors roughly fit into two categories: the developer-focused PaaS, where products target application developers building custom applications from the ground up; and the user-focused PaaS, which adds extensible features to existing software products that enable nondevelopers to create custom applications using cloud services and back-end infrastructure. Below are popular and representative examples of each and explanations of how they can help those looking to expand their business through building cloud-native applications.

The benefit for developers in using PaaS is the reduced complexity of building cloud-native apps, since the PaaS vendor assembles and maintains most of the underlying infrastructure and toolchain. As such, PaaS can offload much of the coding and infrastructure assembly for mobile and web back-end services, as well as enable developers to focus on differentiating features and the user interface, not back-end plumbing. By removing developers from the task of infrastructure and tool management and allowing them to work at higher levels of programming abstraction, PaaS can significantly decrease the development cycle and enable Agile methodologies, such as continuous integration and delivery.

Although PaaS is often used by traditional software developers, the concept has been embraced by software vendors like Oracle, Salesforce, SAP and others to allow customization of their packaged software by business application users. A top-down PaaS vendor — one with a product that turns a sophisticated piece of packaged software into a platform for custom enterprise apps — enables users like business analysts, who aren’t experienced programmers, to develop cloud-native applications that automate business processes, build custom information dashboards or fill other application niches not targeted by packaged software.

The developer versus application-user PaaS vendor

PaaS technology that works best for developers takes care of coding and infrastructure setup to allow developers to program at higher levels and not worry about the back end. Businesses must pay attention to the supported environments and operating systems of each PaaS vendor to see what best fits their technology and processes.

Developer-focused PaaS

Apprenda is a software package for private PaaS that provides an application server and container for .NET and Java applications. It works across both Linux and Windows, although it targets Windows developers. Apprenda includes an execution environment for application components using a distributed, scalable server architecture, with a central management console for the underlying infrastructure, users and operations; a developer portal; and a host of APIs, services and database connectors. Earlier this year, Apprenda acquired Kismatic to provide Kubernetes support for containerized, cloud-native applications. Apprenda is well-suited for organizations building on-premises applications that want to exploit cloud-native technologies, such as distributed cluster management, without piecing together open source components and integrating them with existing data sources and security or user account infrastructure.

The Cloud Foundry ecosystem is an open source PaaS project that originated at Pivotal Labs — an EMC-VMware spinout — and is now governed by an independent foundation. Cloud Foundry is designed for cloud-native applications that use a microservices architecture, containers and RESTful APIs. It runs on a variety of both private and public virtualized infrastructure, including VMware, OpenStack, Amazon Web Services, Azure and Google Cloud. Notable features include service brokers for registration and application binding, service routers to direct traffic to the right component, and cloud controllers for system and application management. There is also a message bus, blob store for application code and packaged builds, an authentication engine, and various logging and monitoring components.

Cloud Foundry is the basis for many commercial products and online services from Pivotal itself, Atos, CenturyLink (AppFog), GE (Predix, targeting internet-of-things applications), Hewlett Packard Enterprise (Stackato), IBM (Bluemix) and Mendix. Each of these may bundle added components to the base Cloud Foundry release and be optimized or more tightly integrated with particular infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platforms — e.g., IBM Bluemix with SoftLayer.

Google App Engine (GAE) is the PaaS companion to the Google Cloud Platform IaaS suite. Unsurprisingly, being from Google, it is designed for web applications and mobile back ends — just the things you’d expect to see on a Chromebook or Android phone. App Engine uses containers that are preconfigured with a supported runtime environment, with a choice of Java, Python, PHP or Go. Teams who specialize in languages other than these four, such as C++, should keep in mind that code will have to be refactored into one of the supported languages.

The platform includes various persistent storage services, including NoSQL, SQL and in-memory caches; automatic instance scaling and load balancing; asynchronous task queues, like a message bus; task scheduling; search –no surprise, being from Google; and tight integration with Google cloud and APIs for its other products, including use of Google accounts and its authentication engine.

Like GAE, Microsoft’s Azure App Service has extended its infrastructure stack with higher-level application services that streamline the process of building cloud-native apps. The focus of Azure App Service is mobile and web applications using .NET, Node.js JavaScript, Java, PHP or Python. Aside from web and mobile back ends, App Service can also be used for service interfaces between clients and servers, which is what Microsoft calls API or Logic Apps.

Like GAE, App Service automatically scales and load-balances client application traffic, and it’s tightly integrated with the underlying Azure IaaS services like SQL, NoSQL and object storage. But it also has connections with over 50 software-as-a-service (SaaS) products, including Office 365, Salesforce, Slack and Dropbox. Microsoft shops with seasoned Windows developers will naturally gravitate to Azure due to its use of Window infrastructure, tight integration with the Visual Studio toolchain, and support for .NET and Windows APIs.

Oracle Cloud is the umbrella term for the database giant’s as-a-service products, including applications like ERP and human capital management, along with raw infrastructure. Its hosted PaaS stack exploits Oracle’s core database technology and targets data-driven applications with services for SQL, NoSQL, big data — Hadoop and Spark — and real-time data pipelines and event streaming (Apache Kafka). Given Oracle’s Sun DNA, it’s no surprise Java is the preferred programming environment with a cloud service for development and testing; staging and production; and support for WebLogic, mobile back ends and JavaScript/Node.js. Like other PaaS technology, Oracle provides API management, infrastructure and service monitoring, log analysis and task automation.

Red Hat OpenShift, the commercial implementation of the OpenShift Origin open source project, is a container-based PaaS that combines Docker packaging and Kubernetes cluster management. It is available as a shared or dedicated managed service, or as on-premises packaged software. The platform supports applications in Java, Ruby, Node.js, Python, PHP and other languages through add-on modules that use the OpenShift API, called cartridges. It includes MongoDB, MySQL, PostgreSQL and SQLite databases, as well as JBoss middleware, including the Red Hat BPM Suite, web server, business rules management and push notification service.

PaaS is a growing market, but still dwarfed by IaaS

PaaS is the smallest of the three primary as-a-service categories, with roughly only one-third the revenue as IaaS; however, it is growing just as fast. According to the 451 Group, PaaS revenue is projected to grow 25% per year, with revenue doubling by 2020. Despite such growth, PaaS will still be a much smaller market than IaaS and dominated by the mega-cloud players like Amazon Web Services — which is adding many application-layer services — Google, IBM and Microsoft.

User-focused PaaS

Business application users must look for a PaaS vendor with a stack that extends existing application platforms like Oracle, SAP or Salesforce, since these will provide the easiest access to data, metadata, user accounts and higher-level application services to create custom dashboards, data visualizations or form-based collaborative workflows.

Selection of a PaaS product is highly dependent on an organization’s existing infrastructure, new application requirements, and the target audience of both the applications and developers.

Oracle Application Builder is a browser-based visual development environment that allows nonprogrammers to build applications by connecting prebuilt components using a GUI. Applications can use Oracle SaaS applications via REST APIs to create customized forms and dashboards. As with any PaaS stack, Application Builder is typically used to build custom extensions to existing applications, as well as integrate packaged and custom applications by sharing data or passing calling functions from one to another. App extensions are often new, custom web or mobile UIs that can be created with a drag-and-drop interface.

SAP HANA Cloud Platform is a managed service providing a set of application services that simplify development using any SAP application, including its HANA in-memory database. Typical use cases include building customized dashboards that can integrate HANA and on-premises data sources, mobile front ends and internet-of-things data analytics.

Salesforce App Cloud is the umbrella service for the Salesforce’s Force.com and Heroku development platforms. It features a GUI, drag-and-drop environment — Lightning — for quickly assembling custom apps from prebuilt components. Built upon the Salesforce customer relationship management application, App Cloud combines core infrastructure services like databases, storage and containers with platform services like a workflow engine, social collaboration, reporting and dashboards, a mobile back end and application UIs. Although developers can code microservices in Heroku DX, Node.js, Ruby, Python, Java and PHP, App Cloud targets business users without formal programming experience. Typical use cases include mobilizing existing Salesforce apps, integrating one or more Salesforce apps — such as customer-facing and employee apps — and building data analytics dashboards from Salesforce activity.

The right PaaS vendor depends on development team

Selection of a PaaS product is highly dependent on an organization’s existing infrastructure, new application requirements, and the target audience of both the applications and developers. Those using experienced developers to build greenfield, cloud-native applications should focus on the developer-centric PaaS frameworks and their associated infrastructure.

Source: searchmicroservices.techtarget.com-To choose the right PaaS vendor, know thyself

5 Best Practices for Outsourcing Cybersecurity

Data breaches are getting more sophisticated, more common, and more expensive; the average cost of a breach has reached $4 million, up 29% in the past three years. No organization, regardless of size or industry, can afford to ignore information security. The shortage of qualified cybersecurity personnel, combined with modern organizations preferring to outsource ancillary functions so they can focus on their core competencies, has resulted in many organizations choosing to outsource part or all of their cybersecurity operations, often to a managed security services provider (MSSP).

There are many benefits to outsourcing information security, including cost savings and access to a deeper knowledge base and a higher level of expertise than is available in-house. However, outsourcing is not without its pitfalls, and there are issues that organizations should be aware of when choosing a cybersecurity vendor. This article will discuss five best practices for outsourcing information security.

1. Never use an offshore cybersecurity provider

The bargain-basement prices offered by offshore cybersecurity providers are tempting to budget-conscious organizations, especially since many other IT functions, such as mobile app and software development, are routinely offshored.

However, mobile app and software development do not necessitate allowing contractors to have access to your organization’s network or sensitive data, and the work can be reviewed by an internal team before deployment. Due to the nature of the work, cybersecurity contractors have full access to your organization’s internal systems and data, in real-time. Meanwhile, there is no way to verify the education, skills, or experience levels of the offshore company’s employees, nor is there any way to ensure they have undergone comprehensive criminal background checks. Finally, if a breach occurs, you may have little or no legal recourse against the offshore provider even if you have proof that the breach was due to negligence or a malicious insider at their company.

Information security is simply too important to entrust to an offshore contractor. There is also a practical matter to consider: Offshore providers are unable to provide on-site security staff at your location, which leads into our second best practice.

2. Steer clear of providers that suggest solutions that are completely remote-based

Some cybersecurity companies provide services that are strictly remote, conducted entirely via telephone and the internet. However, a remote-only solution cannot fully protect your organization, especially since over half of all data breaches can be traced back to negligence, mistakes, or malicious acts on the part of company insiders. An MSSP can protect your organization from the outside and the inside through a hybrid solution that combines remote security operations center (SOC) monitoring with on-site security personnel who can work in tandem with your existing staff or function as a standalone, embedded SOC. These on-site personnel can help your organization establish cybersecurity policies and employee training, as well as immediately respond to security breaches.

3. Beware of providers that claim their solutions provide 100% protection against breaches

When evaluating cybersecurity vendors, you will inevitably come across providers who claim that their solutions are foolproof and will prevent all breaches. This is impossible. Cybersecurity experts are engaged in a never-ending war against hackers. As soon as one vulnerability is fixed, hackers devote themselves to finding the next one, and every new technology that is introduced presents brand-new vulnerabilities.

While a comprehensive cybersecurity solution will protect your organization against most breaches, the cold, hard reality is that there is no such thing as an impenetrable security system. Steer clear of providers who try to tell you otherwise. Not only are they being dishonest, they may also be unable to effectively respond when a breach does occur.

4. Ensure that the provider’s team has real-world experience in cybersecurity

Some cybersecurity providers hire recent college graduates or certificate-holders with plenty of classroom training in information security theory but little or no actual work experience protecting critical infrastructures. Cybersecurity expertise cannot be honed within the confines of a classroom. Entry-level trainees lack the experience to fully grasp the nuances of real-world information security procedures and challenges, which means they are far more likely to make mistakes than enterprise security professionals with years of experience. Make sure that your provider hires only seasoned security experts.

5. Beware of providers who talk about “magic hardware” and little else

Enterprise security hardware platforms are a hot topic in the information security industry right now, and many exciting new developments are being made in this area. However, security hardware is not a standalone solution, and you should be wary of any provider that tries to sell you on a “magic hardware” platform that will purportedly address all of your security needs. Security hardware is a tool for human security professionals; it does not replace them.

Outsourcing your organization’s information security is serious business. You are handing the keys to your kingdom – your company’s internal systems and sensitive data – to a third-party vendor. Asking critical questions and following best practices during the evaluation and selection process will ensure a successful, long-term relationship between your organization and your cybersecurity provider.

Source: m.mspmentor.net-5 Best Practices for Outsourcing Cybersecurity

How Start-up Businesses Can Take Advantage of Outsourcing

The first few phases of any startup are very time and management sensitive, so does outsourcing even deserve a seat at the table? Simply put, there are so many things to be done that outsourcing is indeed a viable option during these phases. It helps by taking the load off personnel and projects.

Outsourcing some projects doesn’t only free up time, but it also leaves you with more energy and in-house resources to use and assign to core business tasks. This is how startup businesses can take advantage of outsourcing.

Outsourcing and Risk Management

Running a startup includes a lot of risks. The markets are oversaturated and volatile as it is, and taking on projects you don’t have any experience with puts your young and fragile establishment at more risk. By finding an experienced and reliable outsourcing partner, you will put risk management in their hands. Avoiding risks depends on having knowledge and experience in certain aspects of the market, and this is exactly what outsourcing providers have.

Become More Competitive

Competition and Outsourcing

There is also one more important advantage of outsourcing. This one will help you level the playing field and stay competitive in your market niche, especially if there are big players offering the same or similar products or services. For instance, you can outsource customer support to a trustworthy company that handles it on a professional level. Your startup can reap the benefits of all those perks big corporations have in-house by smartly outsourcing projects to experts.

Marketing via Outsourcing

Today in the digital age of marketing, strategies have to be devised carefully, and they have to target specific audiences. They also have to be subtle. They are meant to educate the audience, but also to nurture a relationship with them. Very rarely will a startup have the kind of money needed for hiring a team of professional digital marketing experts.

This especially applies to content marketing. Instead of hiring an expensive workforce, you can outsource production and distribution. As long as you clearly communicate the message you want to send to the audience, marketing professionals will be able to help you build better relationships and generate more leads.

Speeding Things Up

While starting a new project in-house may take up to a few weeks, outsourcing it means that it will start right away. This is simply because some of the tasks may require your workers to have specific skills and knowledge that they don’t have at that moment. Instead of investing in their training and waiting for it to be completed, you can outsource the project to a respectable outsourcing firm.

Reduce Costs with Outsourcing

Hiring a new employee just because you don’t have anyone on your staff that can finish a one-time task can prove to be a very bad investment. The best practice for handling peripheral projects is to outsource them. Your hires will be able to focus on core business tasks while the outsourcing partner handles less-important projects for you.

These are just some of the outsourcing advantages startup businesses can gain. In the end, if you are unsure whether to outsource or not, just compare the expense of outsourcing versus a full-time hire, and write down how much money you will save. This may be just the incentive you need for making the right decision.

Source:  rocksdigital-How Start-up Businesses Can Take Advantage of Outsourcing

In Defense Of Outsourcing: The Commonplace Business Practice Has Improved Our Lives

Often, when a business faces a crisis, critics are quick to point to outsourcing as the cause. But does this commonplace practice deserve such negative press? Here are some reasons to think more positively about outsourcing.

The British Airways episode recently cast in sharp relief contrasting views on outsourcing. Over the weekend, one of the airline’s data-centers was overwhelmed by a power surge. The systems were overloaded and technicians took days to rebuild the database. Meanwhile, thousands of flights were cancelled, 75,000 passengers were stranded and the company’s CEO was desperately firefighting before the world’s media.

The press was quick to condemn BA’s cost-cutting and specifically it outsourcing as the chief contributory factor The GMB union attacked the airline’s history of sending British jobs overseas and denounced the senior management as “just plan greedy”.

This evokes the widely-held belief that outsourcing equates evil. The notion, within the press, is rarely challenged.

Some years ago, Procurement Leaders conducted consumer research on public attitudes towards supply chain management.

In a survey of 300 consumers, based in Australia, UK and US, 62% agreed with the statement that “I think it is wrong when the branded company is not the manufacturer.”

This perspective is sharply at odds with the current structure of global trade.

I found only one voice in the sample that expressed a morally neutral attitude towards outsourcing: “Modern businesses sometimes are forced to outsource to save on cost and availability in order to sustain operation and that is understandable,” said one US-based respondent.

Throughout the study, we found a surprisingly low tolerance for any sniff of outsourcing within production.

This reflects the negatively that prevails in the press. Few positive outsourcing stories are reported in the media, but failures are splashed across the business pages. Even the Economist (among the most pro-business newspapers in print) has wondered whether outsourcing has gone too far.

Business generally ignores this discussion and continues to outsource more functions. In the Arvato Outsourcing Index, for instance, Q1 2017 showed the strongest quarter of growth in the UK outsourcing market in five years.

There are two problems with the word ‘outsource’. Firstly, it is often confused with ‘offshore’(and that is subject to a different conversation). Of course aspects of spend can be shipped to a third-party that is based overseas . We find that this is highly effective in cutting short-term costs. But this is not a necessity. There are number examples of companies outsourcing to a local provider. This is more of a function of the management seeking to shift focus on core activities.

A second problem with the O-word is that is often seen as management-speak for ‘job cuts’. The practice is seen as a rapid means to shed costs under the guise of a third-party that has supposed ‘expertise’ in the area. Opportunists have used the tool to generate short-term wins, and winning a personal bonus on the success, and then moving on to the next contract before problems materialise.

These failures seem to highlight poor implementation. Doing anything badly will result in a bad output. This speaks more of execution than the underlying idea. As with any business decision, managers must weigh pro against con. Outsourcing disrupts operations, can result in lost knowledge and can undermine the morale of staff. But there are significant benefits to be wrought as well.

Outsourcing has dramatically transformed the global economy. Our jobs, consumption patterns and entire lifestyles are partly shaped by the rippling effects of past outsourcing deals. The low costs offered by outsourced contracts – vilified by the press at the time –streamlines the structuring of the economy.

Apple, for instance, does not make any of its own products. It has outsourced production to companies based in China. This has allowed the California-based company to focus on enhancing its competitive advantage: design and user experience. Outsourcing also allows the firm to sell consumers high quality design at relatively low prices. Worrying about production lines, operational issues and logistical bottlenecks will detract from the creative atmosphere that the tech company currently enjoys. To convert it back into manufacturing will likely kill off Apple’s entrepreneurial and artistic spirit.

It would be imprudent to attribute Apple’s success solely to outsourcing, but it has had a positive impact. In fact, if we look at any established company, its operating model has been fundamentally recast. 100 years ago, Irish brewer Guinness owned its own farms and made its own barrels. Now the global beer behemoth is considering outsourcing its brewery in Dublin as its brands enters more markets.

The greater focus that outsourcing affords many companies can unburden them of operational drudgery and catapult them to international and enduring success.

The benefits accrue to shareholders, but also to the workers who possess high-value jobs in companies in which they feel proud. Consumers can in addition enjoy lower prices.

Moreover, the fragmented supply chain that necessarily results from outsourcing provides supporting jobs across the world from a workforce that is increasingly specialised and more productive. Outsourcing can cut jobs in one part of the economy, but it also generates work elsewhere that can create more value.

Undeniably, there are examples of failure. This is true of any business practice. There is bad accounting, HR or team leadership, but project failures are not an indication to suggest that accounting itself is to blame. Rather, it’s the people that misapplied it.

Similarly, with outsourcing, there are plenty of examples of success that we simply take for granted. But there are many reasons to defend its practice within business and some arguments to feel grateful as to the way it has enriched the lives of many.

Source: forbes-In Defense Of Outsourcing: The Commonplace Business Practice Has Improved Our Lives