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Third-party maintenance (TPM) is a type of hardware support provided by a company other than the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). TPM can be a helpful solution for post-warranty maintenance when the OEM stops supporting legacy servers, storage, or networking equipment

For example, TPM can cover support for an IBM PS700 Blade that is no longer under warranty after reaching end-of-service-life (EOSL). The level of service selected for IBM Third Party Maintenance or other TPM varies and can include phone and online technical support, component coverage and replacement, on-site engineering assistance, remote monitoring, operating system support, global multi-vendor support, and even proactive maintenance and cost-management strategies. 

TPM provides additional support for businesses using legacy equipment that might not otherwise have any post-warranty coverage. This type of maintenance service helps organizations avoid unexpected downtime and reduce costs associated with repairing or replacing older hardware.

Gartner Report

Third-party maintenance has been around for decades but gained mainstream attention in 2015. A 2019 Gartner report examining the hardware support market found that it’s increasingly more common to use a hybrid maintenance strategy with OEM-authorized and OEM-independent maintenance. 

TPM’s increasing popularity has led to an ecosystem of independent support providers for servers, storage, and networking equipment. TPM pricing continues to become more and more aggressive as vendors compete against each other for renewal opportunities. [read the entire article here]

Advantages of third-party maintenance

The advantages of third-party maintenance include scalability, improved performance, and flexibility. Let’s take a look at TPM’s benefits in more detail:

  • Cost savings. TPM generates significant cost savings compared to maintaining hardware with the OEM. In many cases, TPM contracts are 50% to 70% less expensive than the cost of OEM maintenance.
  • Flexible SLAs and certified engineers. TPM providers often have a global network of certified engineers who can provide same-day or next-business-day (NBD) onsite support. TPM providers also offer a diverse set of Support Level Agreements (SLAs) that can be customized to meet your organization’s specific needs. 
  • Longer hardware life expectancy. TPM allows for longer hardware life expectancy because TPM providers often have access to replacement parts that the OEM no longer manufactures.
  • Coverage flexibility. TPM also provides more flexibility when it comes to coverage. For example, you may only need coverage for certain parts of your system or for certain hours of the day. With TPM, you have the flexibility to choose the coverage that makes the most sense for your organization.
  • Multi-vendor coverage. As TPM becomes more mainstream, vendors are beginning to offer similar services for multi-vendor environments. This can be a big benefit for organizations that maintain a mix of hardware from different manufacturers.    

TPM generates significant cost savings compared to maintaining hardware with the OEM. In many cases, TPM contracts are 50% to 70% less expensive than the cost of OEM maintenance. 

TPM providers often have a global network of certified engineers who can provide same-day or next-business-day (NBD) onsite support. TPM providers also offer a diverse set of Support Level Agreements (SLAs) that can be customized to meet your organization’s specific needs. 

In addition to cost savings, TPM can result in a longer hardware life expectancy. This is because TPM providers often have access to replacement parts that the OEM no longer manufactures.TPM also provides more flexibility when it comes to coverage. For example, you may only need coverage for certain parts of your system or for certain hours of the day. With TPM, you have the flexibility to choose the coverage that makes the most sense for your organization. Finally, as TPM becomes more mainstream, vendors are beginning to offer similar services for multi-vendor environments. This can be a big benefit for organizations that maintain a mix of hardware from different manufacturers. 

To summarize, a number of advantages can be gained from adopting TPM services, such as:

  • Cost Savings – 50-70% less than OEM prices
  • Diverse SLAs and certified engineers – customized SLAs that fit your needs
  • Longer hardware life expectancy – access to replacement parts no longer being manufactured by the OEM
  • Flexible coverage – coverage where you need it, when you need it, and how you need it
  • Support for multi-vendor environments – all bundled into one agreement

Understanding when to use third-party maintenance

When should your organization turn to TPM? Here are some examples of when switching to TPM may be a good idea for you and your business:

  • The OEM raised the cost of your maintenance

You receive notice that your equipment is coming up on end of life [EOL] and now you are faced with either choosing for your hardware to go unsupported or paying the OEM more to cover your EOL assets.

You might consider running your equipment without support because your current IT team has the knowledge to keep it up and running. However, this can put you in a tight spot if your team is unavailable for whatever reason. Whether that be a reduction in workforce, vacation, or sick leave, you always want redundancy of skill to handle these situations. That’s when TPM is the better option.

When it comes to maintaining your mission-critical infrastructure, there’s simply no substitute for dedicated support from a reliable third-party provider. Without this level of protection, your team may not be able to acquire replacement components or install and configure them properly, putting your entire operation at risk.

A quality third-party maintenance provider will not only keep your systems up and running, but also save you a significant amount of money in the process. If you’re looking for peace of mind and cost savings, we recommend partnering with a reputable third-party maintenance provider.

  • Your assets are almost end of service life

If you have not purchased an extended warranty for your assets and they’re approaching End of Service Life or even End of Life, the OEMs will not provide service for your hardware. If the OEM does provide service, it likely will not be a long-term solution and ultimately they will try to upgrade you to new hardware unless you run your environment without coverage.

If you are working within a tight budget and there is no reason to decommission your current hardware, using TPM maintenance providers will help you maintain your current hardware while saving your budget. 

  • You are not looking to hire specialized talent just to manage aging hardware.
  • Your current IT team is stretched thin

If you’re experiencing bandwidth issues with your IT team, you might need to consider outsourcing maintenance to a third-party provider. This can be especially helpful if you have a smaller IT team or if your regular staff isn’t equipped to handle the demand.

Third-party maintenance providers can offer you the necessary help at a fraction of the cost of hiring new staff or expanding your department. Plus, you won’t have to worry about issues escalating quickly and overwhelming your team.

  • You are looking to migrate to the cloud

When moving to the cloud, most companies are surprised to find out they need short-term coverage to bridge the gap between on-premise and cloud solutions. Costs increase while you’re moving to the cloud because you are essentially running two environments at once. This inflated cost is often referred to as the “double bubble”. 

OEMs lack the flexibility to deal with the unforeseeable time scales and the decommissioning of assets at different times. Even if you only need a couple of months of protection, an OEM might get you to buy a full year of coverage.

Therefore, third-party maintenance providers are indispensable during a cloud migration. Some providers even offer short-term solutions, ranging from one month and upwards. This way, you won’t drain your budget on assets you ultimately do not need. Look into providers that can offer you capital upfront and then lease back the assets you need and decommission them within your time frame.

How do you choose the right third-party vendor?

Third-party maintenance vendors can be a great asset to any company, providing crucial support and ensuring your environment runs smoothly. However, it is important to choose the right vendor for your needs. There are a few things to keep in mind when selecting a third-party maintenance provider. 

First, make sure the vendor has experience with the type of equipment you use. Second, ensure the vendor has a good reputation and can provide references from satisfied customers. Third, get quotes from several different vendors and compare prices. By taking the time to do your research, you can find a third-party maintenance vendor that will meet your needs and provide quality service.

Not all vendors are the same and the experiences you can have with them can vary dependent on your SLA. Some specialize in specific lines of hardware and mainframes. Others may have a broader reach to cover multiple OEMs. Consider how involved you want a vendor to be in your ticket-handling process. Some will provide a portal where you can do everything you need from a customer perspective. Others simply give you a phone number and an email address as a way to handle issues and make changes. 

The longevity of employees is also important. Are you constantly dealing with a new point of contact from your vendor? Consistent and happy employees typically translate to good service and happy customers. 

Questions to ask yourself about the provider: How long has the company been around? Does their typical customer profile match that of your company? Some TPM companies live in the SMB space and may struggle to keep up with the needs of an enterprise environment. Are they providing feedback and options or simply taking orders and moving on? Both might be okay for you however look for a company that has a reputation for going above and beyond for your company. 

Conclusion

There are many advantages to adopting data center maintenance services from a third party. One of the biggest benefits is reducing IT expenditure by switching from the manufacturer. TPM services are often more flexible when compared to OEM contracts, especially when it’s time to decommission assets due to unforeseeable circumstances or during a lengthy cloud migration. 

The decision to use third-party maintenance ultimately depends on your specific needs and budget. If you’re looking for cost savings and flexibility or you need around-the-clock support, working with a third-party provider may be the right choice for you. In general, third-party providers are best for businesses that don’t have their own IT staff or need faster repairs. 

ReluTech offers third-party support that matches the quality of OEM maintenance, but at a fraction of the cost. Offering flexible break/fix contracts and parts available with short lead times differentiates ReluTech from the competition. If you’re curious about how much your business can save, check out our third-party maintenance offerings and get a quote today!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR | LIZ GENSHEIMER

Liz Gensheimer is the Sr. Marketing Director at ReluTech creating a proactive marketing plan, utilizing data to plan more strategic and informative digital marketing campaigns, and creating content that will continue to push ReluTech to be a credible thought leader in the third-party maintenance industry. In her spare time, she enjoys being with family, going on adventures to new places, walking her Great Dane, Stella, and crafting blankets.

Get in touch with Liz: egensheimer@relutech.com

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