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Updated by Charles Bystock on 10/29/2015

Mainframe Outsourcing

A common misconception that many CIOs possess that makes them wary to outsource their mainframe is the idea that their service levels will suffer. It is understandable (and smart business) to want to ensure service levels are maintained up to similar standards that CIOs have grown accustomed to internally. Having a team of highly connected and fast moving support isn’t something that is limited to internal operations, however, and can be experienced with outsourced solutions if you work with the right vendor to ensure proper service levels are included in the final contract.

If you’re paying for a group or company outside of your own to operate, maintain, or develop your mainframe, it is crucial to understand how service levels work and how you can get the most out of your outsourcing contract for optimal provider relations and service. While many CIOs ask themselves, “What vendor could run my environment as well as I can”, understanding your typical outsourcing agreement would show that this is rarely the objective of outsourcing. You can build and develop a relationship with a vendor that allows you to reap the benefits of outsourcing while still maintaining full control over your applications and data. As for service levels, it is key to come into an agreement with realistic expectations.

While it is true that outsourcing your mainframe can affect service levels negatively, these incidents are often isolated around vendor selection and are not representative of what the outsourcing market has to offer as a whole. Vendors who promise to achieve any service level requested by the client without first fully understanding their business often lead to unrealistic expectations that ultimately end in failure. Utilizing a provider’s expertise coupled with a full understanding of business requirements should eliminate any infrastructure or IT operations-related issues that affect service levels and the main factor that usually causes service level failures are internal business process inefficiencies or application issues.

What Should Be Included in an SLA?

To ensure proper service levels are included in the final service level agreement, a vendor should work with you to include planning, execution, and governance in their framework. In the planning phase, current service level measures that support business objectives should be collected and used to provide a valid indication of what your business requires, and can then be used to set your outsourced service level measures by taking current data and business goals into consideration. In the execution framework, service level results will be continually analyzed and reported while the contract is in place. Finally, using governance, service level performance will be reviewed against stated business objectives to reevaluate. It is important to include procedures in your outsourcing agreement that can allow changes to be made to the service levels established in the agreement to take full advantage of outsourcing your mainframe and achieving desired and realistic service levels to match business objectives.

Outsourcing your mainframe can help you achieve cost savings and scalability, and the worry of not having access to similar service levels as you do internally should not be a factor in your decision, since it can be avoided with the proper vendor and SLA. Having a team of highly connected and fast moving support can be achieved with outsourcing solutions as well, not just internally. Choosing the proper vendor to achieve business objectives and service levels within your mainframe can be difficult, but the expert IT sourcing advisors at The Windsor Group can find the right solution to exceed your provider and service level expectations through a meaningful interaction to understand your needs and challenges.