By Michael Eubanks, Director, NetApp IT Service Operations & Governance

Insourcing is slowly gaining a foothold in IT departments as companies recognize that regaining governance of their IT operations can be a critical factor in achieving their business goals and controlling their costs.

NetApp IT has joined the insourcing ranks with its new Command Center; the team responsible for resolving infrastructure issues reported by employees, partners, and customers when they access NetApp resources 24×7 across the globe.

As NetApp IT evolves toward enterprise class operations, we faced the challenge of significantly upgrading our externally provided support model and the associated costs of that service. After performing the financial and business analysis, insourcing emerged as the clear winner. Not only would we regain control of our costs, we would significantly improve the level of service delivered by our support team and ensure that our support team’s priorities were aligned with our business priorities.

Our analysis pointed to other benefits from insourcing the Command Center, including:

Cost. NetApp’s service provider costs were steadily increasing and, as we grew, we were constantly engaging additional resources to obtain the same level of service. We could not control or predict costs like we wanted to. We had different goals than our service provider. Our goal is to support the business in achieving its goals and to deliver excellent IT service. The goal of service providers is to meet service-level agreements and generate profits. By bringing it in-house, we project that our costs will remain flat in the short term. We will gain the ability to fine-tune our cost models over time and perhaps further reduce costs.

media1.pngService. The Command Center has approximately 80 level-2 and level-3 engineers staffing seven shifts-two in the US and five in India-for 24×7 coverage. Because the staff is internal, we can direct their priorities more effectively. High-impact incidents can be resolved much more quickly based on business need and impact. If an issue arises unexpectedly, we can also redirect the entire team to resolve it quickly. The team can then be proactive to prevent issues-an important factor in running an enterprise class IT operation.

Staffing. Since 2009, NetApp’s level 2 and 3 infrastructure operations team has been outsourced. We had a large staffing gap in entry-level engineers with NetApp IT experience. That affected us in two ways. First, we didn’t have an internal career path to develop experienced level 4 engineers. Second, it was difficult to find and hire experienced engineers with the skill set we needed. Once hired, we had to train them in NetApp IT’s operations. The Command Center gives us a natural career path to develop engineers with NetApp IT experience. We expect morale to improve as well as the full team works toward the same service goals.

Internal Analysis. Because the operations were outsourced, we couldn’t break down and analyze our costs as well as we would have liked to. We wanted to understand the costs being incurred as a first step to better managing our infrastructure. We also wanted to be able to answer questions from customers about NetApp’s storage operating costs. The Command Center enables us to more easily collect, analyze, and share data about our IT infrastructure.

The new Command Center is one more piece of NetApp IT’s plan to evolve to an enterprise class operation. With a service-driven NetApp engineering team focused on operations, not on managing our service provider, we are better prepared to help the business achieve its goals. And that is a win for everyone.

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NetApp Staff