I need brake work done on my car. I scheduled an appointment with my mechanic for Thursday.
Now normally brake work might not be worth writing about, but this time it got me thinking. About 9 years ago I taught myself to change the brakes on my Subaru. It wasn’t that hard, but it definitely took longer than I would have liked. I’ve learned how to do it much faster since then.
Back then I did it because I was between jobs and had more time than money. It made sense at the time. Since then I’ve generally continued to do them myself. It doesn’t take long and as I’ve said in the past, sometimes I like working with my hands. It reminds me not all of life is simply databases and servers.
So why this time? The simple answer is, my garage floor is cold! Ayup, it’s a funny thing, but in the winter, things get cold! And honestly, I just don’t feel like sitting/laying on the concrete while I do the work. So, I’ll pay an expert who can pop it up on a lift and do the work in probably half the time I can. I remind myself it’s why I work, so I can pay others to do work I don’t care to do, or that they can do better than I can.
Years back, at my last job as the Director, and later VP of IT, I changed our email provider from one company to another (don’t ask me who they were, I can’t recall over a decade later). My team didn’t like this. They kept insisting they could run the mail servers themselves. I had no doubt that they could. Running an Exchange server isn’t the most difficult thing in the world. That said, I kept saying no. For a simple reason: “we weren’t an email company!” Providing reliable email for a business like we were meant at the very least strong spam protection and of course high-availability with ideally geographic redundancy. This meant at least two Exchange servers, spam filters and more. This alone would have cost more than what we paid annually. Now add in the time my team would have spent on email issues, it just wasn’t going to be worth it.
And, we’re seeing that more and more with services such as Azure. Sure, many businesses run change their own brakes, err, run their own SQL Server. But more and more are outsourcing to platforms such as Azure. But there are still a number of companies that for various reasons don’t do that. Fortunately for them, there are consultants like me to help them with their servers. SQL Server has always been easier to maintain than some of its competition, especially when it was first available. But that has never meant it needed no intervention. Someone still needs to make sure that jobs are being run, that backups are available and more.
So, some days I change my own brakes because it’s fun and easy, some days I pay someone. Some days my clients handle their own SQL Server issues, and other days, they pay me.
No real revelation here. No real advice on when to draw the line on outsourcing, just an observation. But in my case, my concrete is too cold, so I’ll pay someone else to do the dirty work.