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It is 2004. The dot-com craze has come and gone. It is perhaps overly optimistic to say that the economy and technology spending is on an upswing. While some IT departments have stayed alive by reducing IT costs and becoming more accountable for their IT expenditures, they still don’t do enough to align IT investments with key business objectives. With IT budgets tight and the IT job market one that favors the employer, ‘building an IT management platform versus buying’ is a question every CIO and CFO is asking themselves today.

Today there are a variety of freeware, open source code and low-priced management software products for addressing networks, systems, applications, and security disciplines. Executives, especially those who are not in the IT software management industry, are faced with a question:

In order to manage and monitor my IT infrastructure, should I build my own IT management platform using existing company resources or buy a solution from a vendor?

On the surface, it might make more sense to build an IT management platform. There are many low-priced toolkits (What’s Up Gold, Big Brother, etc.) that provide extensible software-based tools for several hundred dollars that give the user flexibility to build monitoring technologies. However, any company considering this path must evaluate several factors including:

  1. Human capital costs
  2. Hard costs (hardware, software, testing resources)
  3. Soft costs (lost opportunity costs or the costs of applying resources to non-core competencies)

First, the company must have an on-staff employee who has software development skills, experience in network, systems, applications and security management both from a development perspective (how to monitor it), and lastly and most importantly, skills as a product manager. A product manager is responsible for defining a product’s core requirements and must possess insight into future (technology and industry) trends. In most areas of the country, there is a plethora of highly skilled and currently unemployed professionals available for between $80-$150K (during the boom years, these numbers were almost double).

This begs the question, that with a person of this caliber; wouldn’t the company be best served to utilize this person in a strategic position that can add value to a company’s core competency, rather than focused on reactive, troubleshooting efforts?


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