Navigating whether to offshore your applications
I have been doing IT for a long time. The first 25 years of my IT experience revolved around taking systems from the Mainframe to the local area network (LAN). The thought was having a bunch of separate PC’s protected against downtime and performance issues. The don’t put all your eggs in 1 basket mentality. Over the last several years there has been a push to offboard applications and whole networks to the cloud. The statements below are not an indorsement of any one method but a cautionary tale to help guide you through the many pitfalls in making these huge decisions.
Applications to the WEB
Off boarding local applications to the WEB is big business and there are real advantages in many situations in doing so. There are however some pitfalls and FYI’s you need to navigate through so you make the best decision for your company or employer.
Not all applications are equal. In some instances, the workings of a particular software from the onsite to web version may be substantially different. Options in one may not be in the online version and vice versa. Make sure you get to thoroughly test with the departments involved the web version of a product you are offboarding.
Know your data. Most software vendors want to talk up the positives of their products but not always the limitations of their online product. During this process you need to make sure what data is being transferred to the web version of the software. Many times, it’s not the same. A case in point may be images from court cases, MRI’s and x-rays for healthcare. You may be told that this needs to stay local or it will cost more than what’s quoted. Make sure you inquire. Remember, the goal is to get off the old and on the new system. Having data in 2 places is not optimal.
Where is your application actually hosted. It is much safer to have your data stay in the territorial US. Once outside the US your data is subject to the laws of the nation it is located. Inquire as to where the application provider hosts their platform. Is it Microsoft, Amazon, or another provider? Smaller providers are more of a risk so inquire as to their facilities and standards they follow.
Know your options. Your hope is that all goes well and you live happily ever after with your decision to off board, but what if it’s the opposite? Inquire to the offboarding process of your vendor. I would encourage you to have a lawyer examine the contract. If it is not spelled out you could be stuck with a heavy cost to offboard your data. I have personally seen this be 30,000 just to get your data back and it may not be in an easy form to deal with. You do own your data but that doesn’t get it from their servers back to you, that’s where the costs can come in. Also inquire to what is considered your data. When you are onboarded into a Web application there are fields that the software will create and use that may not be part of what’s considered “your data” or the software vendor may consider proprietary. Make sure you get all the data during the offboarding process and you determine if its useful or not with your new vendor.
Require references as close to your industry and location as possible. When we consult with a business we always encourage this and try to always visit, if possible, the company being referenced. If you get onsite you will usually hear all the good and bad. Use this to your advantage. In particular, you want to know about dependability and customer support satisfaction.
I will cover offboarding your network in a future post. It’s my hope this will help in your decision process. God Bless!
Vincent L. Brannan
5901 Shallowford Road Suite 135
Chattanooga, TN 37421