You Don't Need IT To Do That - The World of Outsourcing and SaaS


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Hosting your website on campus not only has it's own risks but there are probably more "hidden costs" than you are aware.
The same can be said for trying to deploying your own streaming media server, digital asset management system, course catalog management system or countless other technology tools. Many of these tools are needed by the people that handle marketing and are increasingly being migrating towards the web.
In this thought provoking presentation Kyle hopes to start the discussion about why we do many of the technology projects the way we do and ask if there is a better, more cost effective way to do them. This isn't an us vs them debate but a how can we do more with less (people and/or budget).
Disclaimer: I'm not saying IT is bad or evil I'm hoping to start a discussion that is long overdue about how and why we do projects the way before. I spent three years in Higher Ed IT so I can relate to both sides.

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  • How many of you have run into a scenario when a project needs to get complete and you either just don’t have the time or budget but know that it could easily get done if only a few things could get pulled. Maybe IT was blocking the project all together and if only you could get around that then this thing could be long finished?Or maybe (and probably pretty common) a project gets rolled out and as you learn the details you wonder who made this bonehead decision because it doesn’t integrate into our other platform, it will take real work to get going or the people that impacted where consulted who probably had a better way to do it all together!
  • What gives me the right to talk on this subject with authority?
  • try to do too many things under budgeted and under staffed. People think because it is online it doesn’t cost anything. Of course this is an obvious mistake.
  • A wiser man once told me that schools shouldn’t be in the business of software development. I completely agree with this. There was a time when all software was built in the education space but it’s just not efficient to do that anymore. This stuff takes time and you have to keep working on it to keep it from becoming obsolete!
  • takes time to build something by the time you finish it might be obsolete.
  • Nothing makes us want to bang our head more than the politics that come into a project. Everyone thinks they know what’s best even if they know nothing about the web or the difference between chrome and opera.
  • Chances are by the time that you work through all these details and launch your project that it is obsolete?
  • The current school model is grossly inefficient, money is wasted, technology continues to advance at breakneck speeds and yet schools still go through a the process of creating an 80 page RFP for every project. Tell me how that is efficient? Tell me why we continue to still do things the same broken way? Why is everyone so paranoid about job security hanging onto something that kind of sucks?
  • Everything really has changed. Not only in the last ten years but also in the last 2-4. Think about it… we didn’t have twitter four years ago!All known knowledge is doubling at an exponentially growing rate. Only a few years ago we were saying 5-7 years and now we say it doubles every 18 months! With all this new knowledge we learn better and faster ways to do everything.
  • The core mission is and continues to be educating individuals to have the knowledge and skills in the rest of their life. It is important to focus on those values. We’ll come back to this but it is important to keep this point in mind.
  • Some of these I even like to call the hidden costs of trying to do it yourself.
  • Nobody said that they would outsource everything
  • Schools definitely outsource a wide range of services. It looks like the majority of schools are outsourcing a part of everything with the exception of Financial Aid and IT/Technical assistance. I do see this becoming more common in the future.There obviously is no right answer on outsourcing all these services. You could make the point that if 28% of colleges are completely outsourcing their viewbook then more schools should look into it or you could argue that if costs $100,000 to develop each year then you could hire a full time staff to develop it and also have them do some additional projects. The same analysis could be made for any of these services.
  • If you have ever seen this iconic “no software” logo that uses to describe cloud computing and the Software as a Service model (SaaS).
  • Most schools still manage their websites locally.
  • I believe this question meant locally to most people even if they use a 3rd party software solution.
  • This looks like something that more and more schools are starting to outsource but running into challenges because of the unique nature of each schools catalog.
  • Looks to be in a basic form if the school has one in the first place.
  • A popular outsourcing tool that is quite commonly YouTube or includes YouTube as you can see by these few comments.
  • For the most part this looks like most schools use the google cloud, exchange locally or some combination of the two.
  • The big two of Datatel and SunGuard showed up even though they are in the process of merging. This is probably the single most expensive think to outsource or do yourself. There are major concerns about security of sensitive data in the cloud but because the cost savings of adopting modern technology like a I see this being something schools are forced to rethink.
  • Lots of local NAS/SAN
  • CommonApp showed up a lot and then a range of internal systems. CommonApp has the ability to be the defacto in this process and I see that being a good thing for everyone.
  • This was just pushed upon everyone in the last few years and everyone is/was scrambling to find a solution.
  • Google Maps is very popular here as an inhouse solution.
  • There is a good population that doesn’t even use a project management solution.
  • ActiveData was mentioned a few times.
  • WordPress was far and away the most mentioned and along with YouTube appears to be the closest to universal adoption.
  • A very fragmented space with a whole lot of players as you can see in the comments.
  • Another largely fragmented space.
  • You probably know many of these but it’s good to see the collection all in a single location.
  • Outsourcing is NOT the easy button.
  • There is always a better way to do anything so yes the odds are pretty good that you do gain flexibility and cost savings.
  • This is a great graphic of rolling out Google Apps whos star feature is Gmail. There are all these other hidden costs that go into rolling it out.
  • Yes you are going to have to change some things that you are doing.
  • Although there are always immediate concerns you need to think how this will effect future decisions.
  • something goes wrong you always need an exit strategy. The good thing about SaaS is that the initial budget costs are almost always less so you aren’t locked into an extended contract or having spent tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on a project that you feel like you have to keep using because of it’s cost.
  • are the low hanging fruit? You can start with the less mission critical systems to get people comfortable with the Cloud Computing/SaaS model. YouTube for video, WordPressflro blogging or a 3rd party email system are ones that you are probably already using.
  • Personally I believe that with things changing so fast you can’t keep up with the software development and must rely on specialty shops to constantly develop for you. For services nobody knows your institution like you do. Pictures, video or any other service that you manage internally will better match your needs.
  • This was a great piece of feedback left in the survey that I had to share.
  • How do we tell the stories of students? Everyone’s job at a university is to not only provide an education to students but to build a lifelong bond with these individuals. We shouldn’t be writing complete systems to accomplish that. We should have people who can stay on top of new technology and figure out how these new tools will be used to keep telling these stories and building these relationships in meaningful ways.
  • Questions?
  • You Don't Need IT To Do That - The World of Outsourcing and SaaS

    1. You Don’t Need IT To Do That The World of Outsourcing & SaaS Kyle James @KyleJames CEO @nuCloud Founder @eduGuru #eduOutsource
    2. Why are we talking about this?
    3. Who Am I?
    4. Things that kill a project
    5. Things that kill a project
    6. Things that kill a project
    7. Things that kill a project
    8. Is the project still relevant?
    9. We live in a new worldHave you heard of theflattening of HigherEducation that is coming?
    10. The Internet Changed Everything• How software is delivered• How quickly software can be implemented• How quickly software changes
    11. The Core Mission
    12. How can outsourcing bebeneficial and where are the pitfalls?
    13. Two Types of OutsourcingSoftware/Data Management/Products• Video Streaming Platform• Email Hosting• Data Warehouse Services • Video Production • Graphic Design • Specific Projects
    14. Benefits of Outsourcing• Technology is complex, changing and converging• Easier to upgrade and keep up to date• Flexibility and scale• People cost real money too! Really good people are especially expensive• Better disaster preparedness and recovery• Always available (web-accessible for a mobile population)• Lower/Fewer capital investments• More predictable costs
    15. Risks of Outsourcing• Security & Privacy concerns• Performance Issues• Flexibility & Control Loss• Loss of Institutional Knowledge
    16. Myths of Outsourcing• Everyone is doing it• Outsourcing saves money• Outsourcing is greener
    17. How are schoolsoutsourcing today?
    18. Survey of Schools• In March I ran a survey of colleges and universities of which 32 completed the survey.• The data is probably not statistically significant but there are definitely some interesting things we can learn.
    19. Are People in Favor of Outsourcing? No 6.3% Yes – but only in certain cases when you can’tmeet certain needs 21.9% Yes – It has it’s place for certain applications 71.9%
    20. Is Outsourcing Consistent?
    21. Outsourcing Services
    22. Outsourcing SoftwareWe also asked people about arange of software solutions thatwe know have 3rd party systemsbuilt. We tried to cover as manyof these systems as possible togive us the widest range of whatpeople are using and how theyare using it.
    23. Web Hosting• We do not outsource our website hosting. While we keep an eye on the market, our TCO for hosting on campus is still cheaper even after considering staff time. This is because we manage server and hosting environments as a virtual/cloud service on camups.• Most web sites hosted by University, either as CMS sites or other types of sites -- HTML, ASP, etc. Of the many hundreds (thousands) of sites associated with the university a certain percentage of official sites are hosted elsewhere but I couldnt say how many. Sometimes this is due to limitations of university hosting, for example a desire to use WordPress with full admin rights.• AFAIK, Central IT and/or each division/college has the staff and expertise to manage their own servers. Individual departments have the autonomy to spend resources on outsourcing web hosting if they choose.
    24. Website Content Management• We use Contribute with a Perl shim that translates contribute templates to/from our XML-based static file system. This was developed in-house.• There was a multi-year search committee that dissolved after inactivity and no results. As of 2009 I started communicating with OmniUpdate and we are started implementation of OUCampus in 2011.• We use Drupal on campus for everything, which makes it much easier for us to write customized integration and we always know there are companies out there who can help if needed.
    25. Course Catalog• Internally developed and hosted. Wrote own system because of the nature of the institution.• Originally everything was in an aging database, but it was recently scrapped-- without an alternative in place. Our current incarnation of the course catalog is a website with links to PDFs. The PDFs however are not categorized based on content, but the entire catalog cut into smaller chunks to save on file space for transferring to our print vendor.• I firmly believe that an internally built CMS could not compete with a system made by a company that specializes in CMS, especially one that specializes in higher ed. A homegrown CMS has too many problems to even list here, most prevalent, turnover of those that created it!• Our course catalog is awesome! Its written in Drupal and were working on a new Drupal Catalog open source project to share it with the world.
    26. Digital Asset Management System• Dont know about campus-wide, but our department is currently looking into WebDAM.• We use Flickr for photo management.• I dont know that the marketing dept has one, though I know the web team doesnt. We have a network share, but it doesnt get used much.
    27. Video Streaming Platform• Internally hosted for secure content. Other content is served via iTunesU or YouTube.• YouTube• YouTube and Vimeo• We have an in-house media streaming platform, though we are also exploring migrating our video content to Youtube for the analytics and to take the load off our servers.• Watershed, then Edgecast, and soon to Livestream, Youtube for on demand. Doesnt make sense to do video hosting in house. Need to get the bandwidth off our network.• we are bringing up an open source locally hosted solution
    28. Email Hosting• Faculty and staff are on Microsoft Exchange, but there is an enterprise Gmail setup for students.• Exchange• Gmail• Gmail - in the process of transitioning from an internally hosted Novell solution. Extensive evaluation was undertaken of the market leaders before deciding google. Main driver was email is not part of the core business of a University.
    29. Data Warehouse• Business Objects with Datatel• SunGuard• We have serveral. SAP and a number of bespoke systems. The complicated nature of the underlying business makes it hard to grab out of the box solutions and apply them.
    30. Network Storage• No idea except we do it ourselves.• We encourage students to use google docs now.• There is the possibility that central IT is going to implement an unlimited enterprise Dropbox solution for all staff and faculty.• Novell on campus because decision makers were concerned about sensitive data being "in the cloud"
    31. Online Application• CommonApp• In House, expensive to outsource• Our admissions office as an internally built system but we also allow students to use those common apps.• Our applications system is internally developed. Again the small size of the market (compared to the US) and complicate nature of the institution make it difficult to buy off the shelf.
    32. Net Price Calculator• Developed in house. Better customization and integration.• Our net price calculator is a custom Drupal module we wrote.• We dont have this type of service.• we use a locally hosted open source solution• Noel Levitz• Just went live. Forget who we used - financial aid office drove the bus on that.
    33. Interactive Map/Virtual Tour• Dont really have this type of service. We hook google maps into our student portal.• no we locally host an in house mapping tool.• We commissioned a new map. Were interested in building a new one in-house in the next year, but we may have to outsource the construction -- wed like to keep the design and content in-house.• We did it ourselves using Google maps and overlayed our drawn map - were in the process of adding video and text info about each building. We also use separate versions of maps for large campus events to specify parking, etc. for those events.
    34. Project Management Solution• Basecamp• Teamwork Project Manager. Cheap, full featured, easy to use. Better than Basecamp for us.• We use various across campus, on a school-by-school basis.• Our team specifically uses a homebrew solution called "Taskmaster" that was developed in-house several years ago. This app is PHP based (a rails version is being developed) and is what we use to interact with clients and track our tasks and projects in house. It is both a ticket / bugtracker as well as a project management app.
    35. Event Calendar System• ActiveData• This is currently manually managed.• we locally host an open source solution (UNL Events Publisher)• Localist. Requires no IT intervention (outside DNS entry), great support and excellent adoption by the community.• We uses Trumba at university level and many schools, departments, programs have calendars within Trumba system or contribute to main calendar.
    36. Blogging Platform• There is no common campus solution. Most groups autonomously outsource for their needs.• WordPress• University does host WordPress but only in limited use (restricted template, no access to plug-ins except a few default) so many groups that want a blog get outside hosting and use WordPress, Blogger, etc.• We have used Wordpress on a couple occasions, though we dont do much with blogging.
    37. Email Marketing System• MailChimp• ConstantContact• Campaign monitor custom branded. Went with it because we were able to develop integration with our database erp (sungards banner).• University Advancement has a contract with ExactTarget, and we also email on behalf of the college of business and economics and a few other entities. I imagine most units on campus just manually curate an email list and send with Outlook/Entourage.• Several different systems are being used across campus by various groups, from Alumni to Development to individual departments. The ones Ive heard talked about are ExactTarget, Constant Contact and MailChimp.
    38. Emergency Messaging System• 3n• Blackboard Connect• MIR3• e2Campus• we use 2SMS to send sms messages from an in house solution.• We use a blending of the Rave SMS service along with custom campus tools to push alerts to websites and digital signs.
    39. When to outsource
    40. Questions to AskWhen Outsourcing
    41. When looking to outsource…• Outsourcing isn’t perfect and it definitely doesn’t work for everyone or every scenario.• There are definitely scenarios where it makes sense, but you have to understand the unique nature of your school and the strengths and weaknesses
    42. What are we trying to solve and why? • Why are we doing this?
    43. What do you gain from outsourcing? • Are we just doing something else to say that we did it? • Budget, Flexibility, Scale?
    44. Do we gain flexibility and cost savings? • You are most likely looking at outsourcing to save costs so what are they? • Don’t just move budget from capital to operating.
    45. How does outsourcing effect staffing? • Is this intended to replace a staff member? • What are the hidden costs?
    46. What internal changes must happen?• Do custom integrations need to be built?• What is the real time involved to “go live”?• Who other systems/processes does this impact?
    47. What future decisions are impacted? • What do we give up? • How can we integrate going forward?
    48. What is our exit strategy?What is the strategy if things don’t work out?
    49. What services make the most sense?
    50. What you caneasily outsource
    51. What to outsource?
    52. Outsource Platform/Hire Integrators • Require APIs • Hold vendors on security • Ask for development schedule • Go Lean!
    53. Research - See what others are doing
    54. Bill Gates QuoteWe always overestimate thechange that will occur in thenext two years andunderestimate the change thatwill occur in the next ten. Dontlet yourself be lulled intoinaction. Bill Gates
    55. Outsourcing StoryA couple I know, one of whom is an engineer, was remodeling their bathroom andwhen it got to putting in new plumbing, the engineer thought that like the rest of theproject they could figure out how to do it themselves, and the one who wasnt anengineer said, "well yes, we could figure it out, but you see darling, someone elsealready has." Its not 1987 anymore, or even 1997. If there is a technology solutionyou need, chances are someone else has that need to and someone has alreadyfigured out how to do it. That is a long way to say, dont spend extra time and moneyfiguring out something, if someone else already has. And in 2012, chances aresomeone has. And chances are, you have an engineer on your team who wants tofigure it out for themselves. Know when to choose to figure it out and when to hiresomeone who already has.
    56. The Core Mission
    57. Questions? Kyle James