Tuesday, November 27, 2007

outsourcing IT

Inside Higher Ed has a good article on some of the issues surrounding university outsourcing of email to companies like Google and Microsoft. It presents it as an issue that is still a matter of debate, but come on, it's time to turn over these kinds of services to the organizations that do them the best and most cost effectively.

This passage is particularly good:

Through the 1980s, students in college who were affluent enough to come from households with a personal computer routinely experienced technology that was more advanced than what they were used to at home. “Over the course of the ’90s and into the decade that we’re almost finished with, universities have slipped considerably from that position and have gone sort of into the position of near-follower, and maybe ‘near’ is being charitable,” Sannier said.

Of course, it was universities that developed, refined and incubated the predecessor of the Internet, and they were some of the first institutions to adopt e-mail capability. But when it came time to offer the services to all students, rather than just faculty and researchers, many colleges created their own homegrown solutions. Now, some of them are suffering “from the innovators’ dilemma,” as Sannier put it, as software infrastructure intended for a smaller scale is increasingly strained to match growing numbers of students and their widening expectations.

The idea is that if Colleges and Universities stop putting so much energy into managing things like email systems, their IT departments can get back to work on bringing cutting edge academic technology to students and faculty.

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