4 benefits of dedicated maintenance plans

Data Center Maintenance


Parker November 08, 2013

Extended warranties from OEMs can help IT managers extend hardware life cycles, but such a plan often comes with some baggage in the form of high costs and some vendor influence. Getting a plan like Dell support from a third-party hardware maintenance plan eliminates these burdens and frees IT managers to leverage efficient and effective support strategies.

When evaluating dedicated maintenance options, there are a few key advantages that IT managers should really look for:

Cost control
A third-party maintenance plan can be extremely inexpensive. In some cases, the service can cost as little as half of the price of an OEM solution. A lot of factors go into determining the final price of a dedicated support plan, so not all solutions will be quite so inexpensive, but the bottom line for a third-party plan should be significantly lower than an extended warranty of the OEM. These cost benefits can be substantial because they help minimize the total cost of ownership that comes with hardware by extending its value. As a result, the returns of a maintenance plan actually compound the longer the hardware is used.

On top of all this, a third-party maintenance plan comes with the ability to add and adjust features flexibly. This means that an IT manager with some extra money on hand one year can adjust the contract to include features like secure hard disk disposal, but drop that added service another year in the event of a tightened budget. This issue hints at the second major advantage of a third-party maintenance plan:

Flexibility

OEMs have fairly rigid support policies and practices, and with good reasons. It fits their business model to be rigid because they need to focus on both support and selling new products. A dedicated maintenance provider does not require this rigidity because support is the core competency in operations. As a result, there is much more operational flexibility to fine tune the service plans to meet different customer needs. This can prove invaluable for IT managers, as a more customized plan can enable organizations to more easily get the help that matters to them in the timely fashion that is necessary.

Customer service

How one organization handles customer interactions is often far different than how another business will. In most cases, corporate culture dictates customer care decisions. IT managers that want to leverage quality within their maintenance model should carefully evaluate contact center and customer service models to ensure they are signing on for a plan that will be able to meet service levels.

How a contact center is run can have a major impact on how quickly simple problems are solved and how long it can take for field engineers to get the right parts and head to client locations. As a result, advanced customer service capabilities, which are often more common among dedicated maintenance providers than OEMs, are critical.

Niche services

Most OEM support plans reach the end-of-service-life period relatively earlier in hardware’s potential cycle for usefulness. This is especially true in the storage sector, where arrays can last well beyond a decade if a company is able to swap out broken hard disks without trouble. This makes third-party maintenance plans that include the ability to service niche machines that are no longer widely used an invaluable asset to IT managers.

A business with a bunch of legacy storage devices that are no longer covered by the OEM, but still critical to corporate missions, can use a dedicated maintenance plan to get the support it needs to ensure reliability with the legacy hardware.

While OEM extended warranties can create value, the fiscal and functional benefits of some third-party maintenance plans are often too great for IT managers to take lightly.

About the Author

Parker, Park Place Assistant