Included in this document :
The Workflow of System Administration | The Operational Support Contract
The OSC Life-Cycle | The Contract

The Operational Support Contract

System adminstration is a very new profession for organisations, and can seem like a large overhead when compared to the costs of the machines. Only a decade ago, it was the machines that were the major expense and now, with the plummeting hardware costs, it is the people who manage those machines that represent a major expense.

Indeed, the low price of hardware entices many businesses into IT spending with the expectation that these computers will not require large amounts of support overhead. Ironically, this can still be the case, if appropriate steps are taken to manage functionality.

Traditionally, access to system administration skills has only been available on a full-time employment basis (either as employee or contractor). For a small business, this can be a forbidding cost. The mass proliferation of PCs and Macintoshes on the desktop have provided many small consultants who can help with crisis management, but no one who can bring large business production management skills to small business.

Enter The SysAdmin Group.

On-Demand System Administration Services
The Operational Support Contract (OSC) is a framework for obtaining on-demand system administration services from SysAdmin in order to look after your site effectively without the need for hiring a full-time system administrator.

SysAdmin consults to large corporations on the management of mission critical production computing environments. It is this same expertise, and these same consultants who look after small business sites.

SysAdmin provides a number of services under the general delivery framework of the OSC.

The Workflow of System Administration

The types of work which are performed by SysAdmin in providing support for a particular site can be divided into four basic categories; pro-active site visits, re-active site visits, pro-active work performed in-house, and re-active site support.

Planned Site Visits
Where a customer gives us sufficient warning of a need so that we can effectively plan our resources, both the customer and SysAdmin can prepare and schedule based upon this notice. This is the Planned Site Visit, and is our basic mode of operation. Given one weeks notice (5 Standard Working Days), we will coordinate with you to determine an appropriate time for the visit, and perform a block of work (minimum of four hours) on relevant issues.

Our intention is to be as pro-active as we can be in looking after your site, and by providing state-of-the-art solutions we continually seek to reduce the need for any reactive work. Hence, most work is accommodated in this basic rate.

Un-Planned Site Visits
We recognise that emergencies do arise, however, and will always try to accommodate these high priority needs. Where less than one week's notice is given, we will schedule an Unplanned Site Visit for as soon as practical. This obviously impacts our schedules, and may disrupt other planned customer visits, hence we charge a higher fee to reflect the overheads of having to shift our schedules around.

Unplanned Site Visits are typically used for trouble-shooting system failures and related unforeseen issues which require our physical attendance to resolve expediently. Whenever reasonable, we will look to the more cost-effective Support category as the preferred mode of dealing with urgent issues.

Finally, we also recognise that the nature of system administration is such that it can be disruptive to services, and that it is not always convenient to schedule down time during normal working hours. To assist you with such circumstances, SysAdmin can perform such work after hours, at times which suit your needs. In these cases we will need to schedule our staff specially, and this is reflected in the pricing structure accordingly.

In-House Work
Much of the work we perform in operational support can be handled unobtrusively by SysAdmin, and performed in-house. This includes project work which does not require customer interaction, meetings, quality assurance and project management.

Where work is performed in-house, this work will be charged for in units more appropriate for that class of work, i.e. Site Visits are charged in 1 hour units, with a minimum charge of 4 hours. In-house work, Phone and Modem Support, by contrast, are charged in fifteen minute units and incur no minimum charge.

Reactive Site Support
SysAdmin provide both phone and remote site access support to our contract customers. This work is always reactive in nature and so a premium is charged in-house. We also recognise that whilst support work interrupts our work schedules, it can be performed in-house, and so we charge in units of fifteen minutes with no minimum charge.

The Operational Support Contract

The Operational Support Contract (OSC) is a framework for providing ongoing support services to customer sites who either do not have their own system administration staff, or who wish to augment those skills with the state-of-the-art practices and skills that SysAdmin provide.

It is our aim that your systems will require progressively less hands-on administration over time. We wish to improve your system administration practices to the point where you use us as insurance with respect to your day-to-day systems operations, and that we are instead working together to further your IT investment by providing increased functionality and productivity.

The OSC Life-Cycle

The Initial Site Review
The OSC service begins with an initial site assessment and familiarisation study, usually of between one and five days duration. This Coarse Grain Audit will also form a baseline for the regular re-assessment of the site, so that we can monitor the progress and availability of your systems, and assess the performance of SysAdmin, in real terms, over time.

This initial assessment will highlight urgent issues that require immediate attention, and those issues which require attention over the period of the contract. Indeed this will serve to provide an initial list of tasks to be performed during the OSC.

You will receive a report detailing the results of the Initial Site Review.

Ongoing Site Support
Once the initial site consolidation work is completed, SysAdmin will continue to visit your site at regular pre-planned intervals throughout the contract period, performing tasks as scheduled, assessing and upgrading various subsystems, and other tasks as requested.

You will receive monthly reports on time spent, issues addressed, and the remaining priorities. Regular meetings will be held to ensure that we are meeting your objectives, working with you to better utilise your existing environment, and to help you plan future requirements.

The Contract

The OSC is a graded contract, with levels appropriate to the complexity of the site. At the low end is the OSC-008 which is intended for small sites, possibly of only a single host, with a fairly stable application mix and user demands. At the other extreme is the OSC-208 for those large sites which need a lot of site consolidation work. Customised OSC levels can also be negotiated with SysAdmin as appropriate.

The contract is renewed on a quarterly basis, and so the level can be adjusted each quarter to reflect the changing maturity or needs of the site.

Why have a base allotment?
The goal of system administration is to make ourselves redundant, but no matter how much we may strive towards that noble goal, Mr. Murphy will ensure that there are always a few surprises to keep a system manager's life interesting. So, as part of the OSC we recognise this, and we provide a base allotment of services to cater to these times.

This base allotment is pre-paid, and allows us to plan a level of activity with respect to your site. Where that allotment is not used by re-active support, we can use that time to further improve the quality of practices deployed at your site.

So the base allotment amounts to a little forward planning. You get a discount on the allotment, because you've prepaid for it, and we can schedule it well in advance.

What about vendor maintainance contracts?
The OSC is not intended as a replacement for vendor provided hardware and software support contracts. It is recommended as a complementary service to these contracts. The OSC is not intended as an independent remedy for problems for which vendor support is provided. Through the OSC, clients can hope to minimise the impact, cost and frequency of problems requiring vendor support.

Contact us for further details.

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