Oftentimes humans can learn very successful behaviors by looking at Nature and how survival of the fittest can lead to the development of very successful strategies. One common theme in Nature is that size matters.Many animals use size as a defensive mechanism. We have all seen cats puff up to look larger when a dog gets too close. Puffer fish do the same thing when threatened. The underlying emotion that size evokes is one of power and stability.Every large company knows how to use their size to their advantage, and every start-up knows what it is like to compete as the underdog. Customers react to size in many ways. Big suppliers may not be bleeding-edge, but they are perceived to be able to afford leading-edge. They are perceived to be stable and can use their size to create cost efficiencies that can allow aggressive pricing and allow margins for further R&D. Complex problems can be easier for large organizations to solve because their scale allows them more resources to address such problems.As outsourcing has moved from the mega-deal to the multi-sourced deal, many point problems can be addressed by outsourcing, as service providers have emerged as specialists for certain tasks. Some call this out-tasking - handing a specific task to someone else who is a specialist and can do it better, faster and\/or cheaper than you can. Out-tasking is a way for small and midsized players to look larger than they are to the marketplace.One good example of a provider offering out-tasking is Virtela, a managed network solutions provider that specializes in DSL VPNs, IP-based videoconferencing, multinational managed networks and now security. Virtela is one a few providers known as virtual network operators (VNO). VNOs are telecommunications providers that own little or none of the telecommunications infrastructure used to deliver network services to clients. Rather, VNOs deliver customized network \u201csolutions\u201d through integration and management of multiple carrier networks and add value through customer services, intelligent software and creating a one-stop shopping experience. Virtela maintains relationships with more than 230 telecommunications providers around the world, linking them through 25 regional policy centers. Virtela centralizes all service-level agreements, billing, and help desk functions. Virtela can essentially give any company the benefit of the best network management practices and reach of the largest Global 2000 company.Companies are finding that out-tasking services such as network management can help achieve significant revenue benefits, increase flexibility and agility, and provide access to skills that a business might not have in-house. The trend toward out-tasking networked business functions is growing as more companies realize that out-tasking does not mean losing control over critical business functions. Advantages of out-tasking include:* Quickly solving problems by using resources with up-to-date skills.* Scalable access to professionals.* Reducing costs.* Increasing performance.* Staying focused on your primary business.Selective use of out-tasking, such as managed network services, can offer you the level of professionalism and services of a much larger company at a cost equal to or less than you could provide if you kept the same service in-house.A chance to be heard: On Dec. 1, Enterprise Management Associates is conducting its periodic review of IT's use of automated system and storage management services. We welcome IT personnel to participate in this research. If you are interested in participating in a 10-minute Web survey, please click on either of the two links appearing below.The "Automated Storage Management" surveyThe "Automated Systems Management" surveyParticipants will receive a copy of the final report.