I’m not going to rail against 3rd party vendors here, but I do want to point out one area where I have found an extreme weakness … the same one pertaining to two different vendors.
We are looking at a domain name switch here on campus and luckily, we have the domain name. Sadly, we can’t add it to your Google Apps for Education account (yet) because it was used prior by someone else. That stinks.
So I’ve been working with support for the past week trying to get it added to our account, but no luck so far. I’m supposed to have more instructions later today, but they said that yesterday as well. All told, I can’t add the domain to our account which means I can’t really start the move tot he domain.
I have run into similar issues trying to add my email address to my personal Google account because I had used that domain in Google Apps in the past. Support has not been able to help me with that one so far.
Then, I want to try out Microsoft Live for Domains again because I kind of like the new web Outlook. Out of luck for the same reason I can’t add the new domain to Google … it has been used with some Microsoft property somewhere in the past. So I sit and wait for support to get back to me there as well.
If I was running my own server, just having ownership of the domain name is enough to get me going. I don’t need to contend with a vendor’s policies as well, and that is a real weakness. It is hard enough to navigate your own policies but then you need to be willing and able to navigate the policies of another party when trying to get things up and running.
The questions, as always, center around whether it is worth it and what the loss of flexibility and control mean for your institution.
I’m sure I’ll get things worked out, but I would be testing already if I would have kept stuff in-house. I’m not going to even think about whether that trade-off is ultimately worth it right now, but it is something to always keep in mind when faced with the decision of outsourcing parts of your IT infrastructure.