Taking the Horror out of data center OPEX
Park Place Hardware Maintenance
Managing data center OPEX for the forthcoming budgetary year doesn’t have to be fraught with affordability or manageability issues. As budgets are being finalized, many data center managers are considering alternate strategies to cut operating expenses across IT estates. One successful strategy to streamline overheads without compromising services or jeopardising new projects is via elected use of Third Party Maintenance (TPM) providers, who offer zero disruption for digital innovation journeys but with radically revised cost points for support and maintenance. This drive to identify OPEX cutting approaches has become even more desirable in the current climate of exhausted budgets because of IT intervention throughout the pandemic period.
Cost calculations show that effectively using Third Party Maintenance providers can deliver cuts of over 60% on OPEX budgets with Gartner¹ reporting that ownership costs could be slashed by leveraging independent, vendor-agnostic, maintenance contracts to the fullest. Gartner noted that when the correct TPMs are selected and deployed to overhaul support and maintenance contracts, data centers can lower operating costs while still maintaining an incredibly efficient, modern infrastructure with always-on, reliable network, servers and storage equipment. But it’s not an option that OEM hardware suppliers are openly discussing as it threatens rolling support and lucrative maintenance agreements while jeopardising cycles of costly renewals and while negating end of life penalties.
In response, one common concern that OEMs cite is the need to retain the manufacturer’s maintenance in order to receive software updates, but in reality, these updates drop dramatically in line with the age of hardware. Moving away from OEM support is a break decision that tens of thousands of customers have already taken, many of whom are Global 1000 organisations – transitioning fast and without interruption from defacto OEM contracts. Gartner has recognised TPMs as an official alternative supply category for over six years, again noting that when adopted wisely, the cost savings can be staggering.
That’s really the key to slashing OPEX without negative repercussions – wise adoption and thorough diligence before you shortlist select TPMs to quote for the switch. No two TPMs will offer the same service levels; geo location support or can demonstrate the same depth of engineering experience. A few background checks before reaching shortlist stage will greatly assist cost saving ambitions and critically will mean zero compromise in service levels in the transition process.
Identify TPMs that offer similar, or even better, levels of global support than you currently have across locations:
Often OEM hardware suppliers will quote lack of detailed engineering experience as a potential risk factor for switching maintenance. Specialist maintenance providers have been in existence and operating within the data center for years – for instance, maintainers for printers, servers, storage, networking. It’s a tried and trusted approach that brings the capabilities of best of breed maintainers who critically also have deep engineering capabilities and knowledge of other elements in the infrastructure to surpass an OEM’s individual brand capabilities.
What you are really looking to achieve when you switch maintenance is not just OPEX savings, but re-assurance that your maintenance insurance policy will cover your entire data center in dire moments of need from one reliable, trusted source and ideally providing even higher levels of holistic services. The key is to narrow the field towards identifying established TPM leaders that can offer 24/7 support for the entire infrastructure right across the globe across all mainstream brands. Doing this successfully involves asking detailed questions about backend ticketing capabilities, as this is the chance to move from multiple support tickets to one source of fast reassurance, action and reporting.
Geographically, shortlisted TPMs should demonstrate global footprint on every continent and a presence in hundreds of countries that will likely exceed the engineering manpower capabilities of the OEM. Essentially you are looking to identify the topflight TPMs that can provide you with that middle of the night/public holiday/wherever in the world, re-assurance.
Let the TPM help create the business case for the data center:
Not all hardware is created equal, neither does each hardware device carry the same level of importance across organizations. A good start point for data center leads is to map hardware priorities to understand associated service levels. Once resources and processes are ranked in terms of criticality for business, shortlisted TPMs can be invited to assess and quote for support and maintenance savings. They will further discover and assess estate assets, establish required SLAs and identify annual OPEX savings in a strong business case and provide detailed recommendations to move forward. It could be for instance that a hybrid model – which combines a mix of leveraging OEM support for new equipment with TPM support for older equipment – is recommended as optimal. The workings and agreed service levels behind any agreement should be clear, transparent and connected with the organizations’ overall IT goals.
Satisfy that stocking levels of TPM are adequate:
It’s important to understand the likely volumes of stock held at a TPM for when replacement parts are needed fast. In the current long lead-time conditions offered direct from manufacturers, often TPMs can ship replacement products far quicker than OEMs due to the vast inventory held. Check that all equipment is rigorously tested by the TPM before dispatch to avoid failures onsite. Again, an OEM rarely takes such pre-delivery precautions. Lastly check with the TPM if a lifetime warranty exists on all shipped equipment.
Often, respected TPMs will do much of the hard work for you creating the business case, by taking a holistic approach to what is within your infrastructure and after analysis, will offer transparent, easy to use and understand calculations that demonstrate the savings.