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Outsourced Backup: Pricey But Worth It

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Experio, the consulting arm of Hitachi USA, has more than 800 employees, 700 of which are mobile consultants. At the same time, it only has a four-person IT staff. How does Experio do it? In a word: outsourcing, including outsourced backup.

Founded in 2000, Experio director of IT Michael Shisko says outsourcing part of the company's game plan from the get-go. Why? Simply put, "we wanted to put all our efforts on the consulting, revenue generating side of the business," Shisko says.

Experio outsources its e-mail, servers and associated storage. But because the company pays for space "in real dollars," Experio employees are not to store files on the outsourced servers. Instead, they're encouraged to store e-mail and data directly on their laptops. "These days, with 30GB hard drives on their laptops, that's quite feasible," Shisko says.

At the same time, "we realize that without providing them with a way to back up their laptop, that's not a user-friendly approach," Shisko says. For Experio, that backup is provided by Connected Corp., which performs a full backup of end-users' PC for about $160 per user, per year.

Unlike some outsourced backup solutions, Connected does a full backup of end-users' PCs, not just selected folders like "My Documents." That's important, Shisko says, in order to get Windows registry information from which to rebuild a lost or stolen laptop.

But the real question is: Is outsourcing IT, backup included, cheaper than doing

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it yourself? "In all honesty," Shisko says, "we ran the numbers and it turned out to be a little bit more expensive."

That said, Shisko has gone to the mat for the Connected backup service, going up against a CFO eager to cut costs.

The way Shisko figures it, the per-user cost of outsourcing backup is equivalent to one hour of a consultant's billable time. "When you look at like that, it's very easy to justify." Plus, the security of outsourced backup helps keep his mind at ease--"I can't imagine having Connected or some other service. The thought of having un-backed up desktops is terrifying--there's so much information on them." To say nothing of the reduced workload: "the IT staff here works pretty normal hours," he says.

This was first published in May 2003

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