Ron Pollard
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Considering Third Party Maintenance?

There are many factors when considering Third Party Maintenance (TPM).  Cost shouldn’t be the primary concern when dealing with mission critical applications. 

When you purchase new computer equipment, most Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) provide a three year warranty covering all hardware replacements and an on-site tech to swap out parts.  Many start with one year warranty on software covering patches, updates and microcode for storage devices.   Some throw in the additional two years of software so it co-terms with the hardware.  It is recommended to stay with the OEM during the initial warranty period.

 After the warranty period, OEMs continue to sell extended service plans including upgrades, patches, and updates as they are developed by engineering.  After the three year period, the OEM may announce “End of Life” for some products as it is being replaced by newer technology. However, they continue providing support for up to five years.

Good planning always takes precedent over saving money.

OEMs hope you will refresh equipment after the initial warranty period.  You need to determine if your business requires the newest technology, or stay with the equipment you have.  In many cases businesses spend most of the warranty period implementing the new equipment.  As a result, it rarely makes sense to refresh their environment after three years. When an OEM issues an “End of life” for a products’ fourth year, it still may be too early to consider a TPM for support as patches, updates and microcode could still be required for your environment.

For example:  You purchased HPE 3PAR P20450 three years ago and it is time to consider renewing your support contract with Hewlett-Packard Enterprise.  The HPE 3PAR P20800 just came out and now you need to decide if a refresh makes sense, renew support with HPE, or consider Third Party Maintenance to save money.  We will help you with the decision process below.

TPMs, like Sherlock Services sell extended hardware warranties at significantly lower prices than the OEM. As much as we would like to win your business, we want you to understand what is critical to ensure a stable environment for your data center.  Here are some important tips to consider before moving your maintenance to a TPM.

  1. The OEM has declared your equipment as “End of Life”. Meaning that engineering enhancements discontinue for this product. Many will support the asset for up to five years or until they announce, “End of Support Life”.
  2. Before leaving OEM support, always have the latest patches, updates and microcode installed as it applies to your environment. If a version of microcode supports everything you will ever do with the storage environment, stay on that version.  If the update provides a drive type that you may consider using, you may want to consider installing it.  Be aware that some installations of microcode require complete downtime of the equipment.
  3. Evaluate whether the patches and updates offered by the OEM are necessary for your environment and your particular uses for your equipment.
  4. The TPM can provide an adequate supply of parts to cover your investment. Some TPMs provide crash kits locally, on-site as part of the contract, or on-site for a separate fee.
  5. The TPM has the engineering skillsets necessary to support and fix your environment. Some companies claim they provide the skilled resources, but many times farm it out which may slow down the time to repair.
  6. Find a TPM that provides a “call-home” capability. This will ensure your equipment is always monitored and alerts the provider and you in the event of a failure.
  7. The TPM has portal access to all your assets under maintenance and a view to the tickets created.
  8. Look for a company who treats you as if you were their only customer. As the TPM space grows, customers can get lost in the shuffle.
  9. Considering a TPM for support does not mean to abandon your OEM for support. A TPM and OEM interact well together.

Remember that Third Party Maintenance can save you money. You need to be sure it will provide you quality service.  In our experience, a good TPM company should provide better service than the OEM.  At Sherlock Services, we are motivated to keep your equipment up and running, while the OEM would like you to refresh your environment with new technology.  Only you can decide what is best for your company.