How many people to admin a Cyrus system?

urgrue urgrue at
Fri Nov 9 09:39:38 EST 2007

>> My director seems interested in outsourcing our e-mail system, judging
>> by the number of articles on outsourcing that he sends to me.  Google
>> and Zimbra with a commercial contractor are the latest two.  Replacing
>> a perfectly functioning e-mail system seems ludicrous to me, as does
>> subjecting our users to a migration for no reason. I assume at least
>> that he wants vendors to quote on a replacement system.  Perhaps once
>> he sees the cost, he will change his mind.  I suppose it depends on
>> whether the quote includes the real cost.  Does anyone here have
>> experience in this area?  I know that CMU and other universities want
>> to maintain their own e-mail systems.  What's the justification in
>> these cases?
> I don't know about costs. I do know that you could not outsource our email 
> service without simplifying it a lot. For example, would your contractors 
> be able to use your campus authentication mechanism? Would they be able to 
> use your existing user support processes? Would you be able to introduce 
> new services, or service enhancements? Would your user's privacy be 
> protected?

In my experience outsourcing looks great on paper but never works out as
expected. For one thing you must be _very_ careful about hidden costs
and SLAs. You need to think of _everything_ you need now and in the
future and have it specified in the contract at fixed prices. I have
never seen a project outsourced that didn't end up costing significantly
more than was originally assumed.

"Oh, you want shared folders, too? You didn't specify that as a
requirement when we built this system..." $$$$ ka-ching! $$$$

(Very!) generally speaking doing something in-house is cheaper than
outsourcing. Outsourcing is good if you have more money than
time/energy/resources and/or want someone to blame when there's trouble.

I would never consider outsourcing as a cost-saving measure, except in
very specific situations (DNS and web hosting are good examples,
provided your needs are relatively simple)

I would be quite surprised if you can find a provider that will offer
you a 30000+ user mail system for less than it costs to hire one decent
admin. Even in the initial calculation!

I would consider outsourcing in some scenarios, but probably never if
you've got a perfectly good, functional system already built, and all
that is needed is 1 or 2 admins to maintain it.

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