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I work for a Tech startup, 70 employees and rapidly growing. We recently moved from a co-working space to our own office. Most of us run off of brand new Macs that are leased and have Apple Care Protection. Our product is based in the cloud with a minimal networking room. We have very technically sufficient employees.

We have been using an IT consultant on an hourly basis to help get the network set up and to trouble-shoot urgent matters. Our People Ops department otherwise manages IT.

At what capacity do you see companies needing a full-time IT person?

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    Who does security? 70 is in the range of a permanent IT. – paparazzo Oct 11 '16 at 22:09
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    Do you have a server, firewall, domain, security, or is your whole network just based around cabling to a router for internet access? – Kilisi Oct 11 '16 at 23:26
  • We have another outsourced company managing our Firewall network security. – Colleen McGarity Oct 11 '16 at 23:46
  • No server. We are a Google Apps Org. Network is firewall, switches and cabling for internet. – Colleen McGarity Oct 11 '16 at 23:47
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    Having no "servers" is relative. What it probably means is that you have got a lot of business data in the personnel work machines, or at worst, unofficial servers in-house. You normally have at least a couple of them to ensure network operations, unless it is the firewall or router providing those services, and by now you are getting too big for that. – Rui F Ribeiro Oct 12 '16 at 8:44
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As soon as it is cost effective.

as soon as your "technically sufficient" employees (or at least a few of them) spend more time (money) fixing and maintaining the infrastructure instead of being productive on their tasks then you need to really think about this.

or in your case, as soon as the IT consultant costs more than a permanent employee (including over-head costs)

Even if we (technically sufficient employees) are able to install patches and change printer toners, it does not mean we want to do it and do it while in the middle of something important.

  • +1 This is a good solid answer, once your consultant starts costing near what a fulltime is possibly the only way to measure in this situation. It's pot luck on how good your consultant is though. – Kilisi Oct 12 '16 at 0:10
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    Not just the costs of the consultant - add in the wasted money from developers being stuck waiting for the guy to come in as well. That's likely a larger chunk of it. – Erik Oct 12 '16 at 5:37
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70 is quite a few staff members. It depends on what your network is used for, how well set up it is, how reliable your infrastructure is, what your budget is, and a bunch of other factors. I know networks of fifty with full time IT. I know a Govt division with 5 full time IT which is about 70 people (but they sit on their hands all day). I handle more than one of over the 200 person mark on an hourly basis easily enough.

You should discuss this thoroughly with an experienced professional network engineer. There is too many possible factors for us to generalise an answer.

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Networking is one of the bread and butter core tasks of your business, as it seems evident when you say everything is "on the cloud".

I would advise to have at least an employe dedicated full time to network/system task besides the consultant, and only let go the consultant after knowledge transfer/that persorn has proved himself/has declared himself confy enough with the role.

Even then, you could mantain the consultant in a less significant budget for more complicated emergencies, or as a contigency plan (could you bring him on board?). I would do without the firewall maintance company on the short term though.

Be aware that firewall maintenance often is just a generic term for keeping up the contract, or at most availability of spare parts, and the software up to date (CheckPoint contracts for instance) , so I would double check if much more is involved on that.

You need someone to take full ownership of the networking and security area, that will keep up with the technology, will procure new solutions, does the interface with vendors and more importantgly yet, will document properly and have a full idea of the present baseline and a planned path for the future.

One persorn that will also start building and maintaing monitoring systems besides the ones your cloud vendors give you, and local servers to streamline network operations, optimize the local network and even having local backups of important projects.

Someone who will will setup secure remote accesses both to your local network and to your remote servers. For instance, here I have setup automatic wifi and VPN provisioning with security built-in for Apple users.

The daily to daily maintenance tasks are an unecessary distraction to other employees too. Often when setting up services, human nature as it is, they will do a rushed job, as it fits them, as it is not clearly neither their core training or they have the ownership of the task to fit it all in the bigger picture.

How much does it cost you every minute you have a network problem or that you are down? Furthemore, how much would it be valuable to have a core of in-house resident expertise? This boils down to much more than a numbers game/cost exercise - this could be a business strategic decision down the lane.

Disclaimer: I am a system/network/security consultant with an ISP background and usually work for large / several thousand users organizations.

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