Third Party Maintenance

A new approach to the IT lifecycle

A new approach to the IT lifecycle

I like to discuss the role that TPMs can play in optimizing budgets and a new approach to managing the IT lifecycle.

With the dawn of the information, age came the necessity to invest significant capital into IT infrastructure. Time has moved on, but in innovation terms, our industry has not even started to slow down. We are riding a seemingly unstoppable wave of expansion and innovation. IT deployment, in the internet age, finds itself often at the heart of a corporation’s business model. So, unsurprisingly investment and maintenance are activities close to the heart, not just of the Departmental manager, but the CFO or even the CEO. So how do you get more out of network or datacenter without raising the chief financial officer’s blood pressure?

Rewriting the maintenance rule book: a new approach

As business people or consumers, we live in a society where constant innovation leads us to upgrade products and equipment. But do we always do it for the right reason?

In IT terms the old playbook dictates that you look to modernize your IT system every three to five years. In other words, replace it even if “it isn’t broke”.

Why do we need to replace switches, routers, servers, or other networking and storage equipment if there is no apparent business need? The business philosophy of TPM’s center around making the most out of the clients’ IT budgets. And it’s a philosophy that has been recognized by Gartner in a recent independent study concerning the importance of third-party maintainers.

“TPM contracts will offer customers an average of 40%-85% savings off OEM support list prices. However, depending on equipment type, location, and product density, Gartner has seen that the range of savings with TPM contracts ranges between 50% to 95% off OEM lists.” The savings that can be made are clearly staggering.

OEM or TPM: getting the strategy right.

As a TPM you might think that our strategy is based around spreading our third-party-maintenance “word” to all and sundry and pushing the market towards our model. But no. We believe that the correct strategy for datacentre or network budget holders centers around a hybrid approach; one where IT infrastructure budget holders strike the right balance (for the right products and services) between the two.

In the “old rule book”, you changed IT hardware every three to five years.

Products are easily outlasting their initial projected Lifecycle. MBTFs (mean time between failure) is getting longer and longer as research and manufacturing techniques evolve. So why are clients expected to spend such exorbitant maintenance costs for products that are increasingly efficient? It makes no sense.

TPMs offer end-end support on IT equipment/products that have officially been classed by manufacturers as EOSL (end of service life) and EOL (end of life). So, it’s not surprising that more and more organisations are turning to TPM’s as a means of squeezing more out of their budgets.

Indeed, analysts have stated that “over 71% of Fortune 100 customers use TPMs as a form of support in their environments”. (Gartner Report)

The hybrid model: A best of both worlds approach

Once you have decided that you don’t want to throw out a perfectly good server just because a new one has come on the market, you are ready to buy into the TPM approach. But that doesn’t mean you need to say goodbye to your OEM friends. Far from it.

It is important to keep these relationships in place to maintain and protect your brand-new equipment. But the maintenance of the older equipment can easily be passed over to the TPM’s in order to increase its service life and to extend the life of your IT infrastructure.

Certain TPM’s have forged a cast-iron reputation in the market, known for their superior multivendor expertise and the ability to provide spares and support with a customised SLA. The primary goal of these TPM’s is to act as a single point of contact with clients for activities as wide-ranging as maintenance, spares, and repairs. They have a global footprint with offices and buffer stock, in order to ensure top-notch customer support and quality of service. This forward stocking helps the companies get their mission-critical components or equipment when and where they need it, instead of shipping it over from faraway locations or even from other countries.

Auditing a TPM: how do I know which one is right for me?

So what questions should you ask yourself if you are thinking about bringing a TPM into your “maintenance mix”

Flexibility: how flexible are the service level agreements put in place by the TPM:

Flexibility is key when you work with a TPM. If you can find an “à la carte menu”, like the one offered by the TPM’s which allows you to specifically adapt service level agreements to your needs, this will be a real asset for any organisation in the long term.

Technical support: Is your TPM up working when you are?

Global businesses have their own set of demands. You will need to ensure not only that your TPM can meet your own very precise technical demands, but that its teams are up and about when you are! It might seem obvious, but not every service provider is accessible when you might need them. It is therefore very important to evaluate if your Third-party maintenance provider is a global provider with a team of engineers available to support you with your mission-critical equipment all over the world.

Cost: do their costs meet with your approval?

Generally speaking, a few third-party providers will give you lower prices on certain equipment or IT stock. But prices and warranty still differ between suppliers, based on the quality checks carried out on that spare so check that you are getting the value you need before you commit to a contract. Remember you are signing an insurance contract for your mission-critical IT infrastructure, choose wisely, choose the best, and choose the most effective solution there is.

Equipment replacement/repair: I need my kit yesterday!

With the top TPM’s it’s not just about price. You need to work with a TPM that has the stock you need. You also need to be sure that they can get it to you quickly and provide you with a customised SLA.

Since these things require huge infrastructure and can only be done by the top of the line and well-known multi-vendor global TPM’s, also because not all third-party maintainers have access to the same stock levels, multivendor support, and forward stock locations. It becomes a prerequisite to taking all these factors into account when choosing a TPM partner for your IT infrastructure.

These huge stock levels of IT spares are mainly due to the established testing and recycling centers that TPM’s have in place which again does not come as “standard” with all TPMs, so check first if this is important to you or if you are working with hardware which has a high failure rate.

How are you managing your company’s IT infrastructure? Are you looking to find out how you could squeeze more value out of your IT budget?

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