I''ve been a SAS Admin for over 10 years and feel that we balance SAS development/analytic and admin roles pretty well. Recently, however, there has been talk in our company (large fortune 500), about outsourcing all software management responsibilities (not just SAS). I naturally feel that this in general is not a good idea but I'd like to hear the opinion of others. Has this been tried anywhere else and what your experiences have been. What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages.
Just for reference: We have 3 separate licenses.
1) Grid Clustered Metadata , 4 compute nodes
2) Single Server (all tiers)
3) Multiple Server (1 for each tier - Compute, Meta and Mid)
Monday - last edited Monday
that is, actually, a great-great question. I think that outsourcing it can be very positive, but it requires a LOT of care, specially defining the boundaries and the responsibilities. In short, a good definition of the contract. And do not be short in budget.
I think you can find many advantages in outsourcing:
As disadvantages I can think of:
My best suggestions is to spend as much time as needed, before the contract starts, to define all of those boundaries, expectations, responsibilities, etc. And very important, you should ensure the other party will do pro-active administration, not only re-active administration. We want parties that can add value, not only "do the job".
Also, ensure that you are still proprietary of your environment. Some contracts will not allow you to have the admin rights anymore. Which might be just OK and might make sense in some scenarios. But do not let go the business ownership, and be the main contact (1st line) with your users: you know your people better. One person or team should translate between your company and the outsourced service provider.
I also advise to have a test period. Say 3 or 6 months. Something that can give you, and them the flexibility to say "no" in case the relationship/project does not work. It is better by far, to end up friendly that with lots of frustration in any of the 2 sides. Or even worse: your end users.
Just some initial thoughts. Probably you have them as well.
But perhaps and hopefully some of them might help you.
In addition to @JuanS_OCS's valuable insights, I agree that outsourcing can work but it needs to be managed very carefully. In particular I think there need to be clear boundaries as to what is outsourced and what is not. For example, job scheduling and managing data libraries are often done as part of SAS projects so outsourcing these tasks could be counterproductive.
There is also the danger that the outsource company takes advantage of the outsourcing contract and does unnecessary or inappropriate work. I've seen this happen myself. Your company will need to control and direct the outsource company appropriately.
Outsourcing someone's work only makes (business) sense if you can fire that someone afterwards, or put her/him in a new job slot. Otherwise you just pay twice.
If they still need you to coordinate, they'll pay for you, for the someone who does that work now, and for the someone who wants to make a business out of it.
I've seen lots of people doing consultant work in the SAS field, but I honestly don't know of any company working as a SAS data warehouse provider.
If you're doing business in Europe, the GDPR would make it even harder, as you are handing off responsibility for your data to a third party, for which you need extra clearance from your customers/partners. And it's the responsibility of the outsourcee if data ends up in the wrong hands.
I think controls are very necessary, the bigger the contract and responsibilities, the most careful in controls.
As said, I think any company outsourcing any service, should not let go completely the ownership, since, in the end, it is yourself who answer the questions.
In other hand, a couple of additional comments:
- I think the question (correct me if wrong) is not that focused on SAS Datawarehouse service (which would be great) but just SAS Admin. And this service does extensively exist, as SAS Application Maintenance, at SAS and Partners spread along the globe. Some with more expertise and quality, some with less. But hourly rates and service packages are also different amongst them.
- I also would like to say that my experience says about control, double-verify contract/actions/etc, specially in short term, but it tells me as well that trust and middle-ground is as much as important in the long run. It is healthy to bear this in mind. Interesting thing is that I saw delivery times, costs and relationships to deviate a lot... not because anything else than trust.