Dell Maintenance for Enterprise: A History, Today’s Reality
Dell maintenance and support for enterprise systems, such as servers and storage appliances, can be a confusing topic. There exists now a variety of branded Dell support services. But little information is publicly available regarding how many years such contracts will be offered for a particular system. Similarly shrouded in mystery is the Dell EOL and end of support life (EOSL) product list.
Web-based look-up based on the product tag will return an item’s warranty and support status information and facilitate maintenance contract renewals. But many customers want a more holistic view of Dell maintenance and support so they can plan IT policy accordingly. We try to provide some insight below.
About Dell’s Maintenance and Support Offerings
Customers often praise Dell for its lifetime hardware support policy. Any number of boards mention positive experiences dealing with Dell for questions about older equipment, without being charged for the service.
This commitment is limited, however. Dell will allow you to speak to one of their techs. But the basic telephone assistance assumes the customer organization has knowledgeable internal staff with the time to address the issue. On-site assistance and other key maintenance services are not available after a certain time frame. Spare parts can be purchased from Dell, if there are any in stock. As a result, your mileage may vary, especially as systems age.
Dell’s free lifetime support pales in comparison to Dell’s extended warranty and maintenance coverage, which comes at a price. The downside to these contracts, other than expense, is their limited duration. For many systems, the more comprehensive maintenance service was included for three years as part of the standard hardware purchase. Renewals for an additional two years—for a total of five years of support from purchase date—have generally been obtainable on enterprise equipment.
Starting in 2008, Dell began to simplify and brand its support services. The company introduced “ProSupport global services offerings that replaced ten separate maintenance and support pacts.” From there, the company added managed services and then a ProSupport Enterprise Suite in 2013. Among their features, ProSupport Plus and ProSupport Flex incorporate dedicated technical account managers.
Depending on the IT organization’s arrangement with Dell, support for products may extend beyond the usual five-year window. Longer term commitments seem to be reserved primarily for government agencies and customers with Dell-focused data centers under large services contracts, who have the bargaining power to eek seven years of support from Dell.
For the average IT organization, the availability of a Dell maintenance contract may not last as long as the hardware.
Best Bet, Best Response
With Dell, as with most other OEMs, it’s best to assume that hardware will enjoy robust manufacturer support for five years. Spare parts, on-site assistance, and other maintenance services can be expected during this period of time, assuming the contract is renewed and paid up.
The support can, however, be expensive. Assuming that three years of maintenance was included with the hardware purchase, IT organizations may want to reconsider the OEM arrangement as soon as year four. Data center third party maintenance providers, such as Park Place Technologies, can slash 40% to 70% off the maintenance contract costs while enhancing service levels.
At the five-year mark, Dell’s commitment becomes highly questionable. Yes, the lifetime DIY support will continue. But with spare parts coming into short supply and such features as on-site assistance generally unavailable, many customers will find Dell options insufficient.
This is when the vast majority of Dell customers will switch to third party Dell support and maintenance, if they haven’t already done so. Several full-service providers stand ready to take over the complete maintenance workload from Dell. In the case of Park Place, our standard Dell maintenance package is highly affordable and includes a wide range of features most customers only expect at a premium level (and at a premium price), such as:
- A Level 3 engineer assigned to the account. Just like Dell’s expensive SupportPro Plus and Flex services, you get a dedicated technical rep. But ours is a true customer support engineer with deep Dell experience, and this feature doesn’t cost a penny extra.
- Immediate access to Level 3 support. Online and phone requests are answered only by high-level personnel. And there’s no severity level assessment to determine when engineering will get back to you—we answer questions and start troubleshooting right away.
- Certified spare parts with on-site installation. Don’t worry about shortages if you have Park Place coverage. We’ll keep spares on site for mission critical systems and in strategically located depots for equipment under other SLAs. And your account engineer will always arrive quickly to install them.
- Complete support package with proactive measures. Park Place covers the hardware, but also assists with associated software and firmware. And 24/7 remote monitoring is provided via Park Place Pulse. We also include a free, up-front systems analysis, quarterly account review meetings, and up to four days of engineering time in every contract period to assist with functions beyond typical break/fix issues.
- Lifetime commitment to hardware. There is no need to worry about maintenance features suddenly being rescinded. Park Place provides comprehensive, full-service support for Dell equipment for as long as our customers would like to keep it in service.
The combination of quality service and affordable prices make Park Place a great choice for companies’ long-term Dell maintenance service needs. And our ability to extend hardware lifespan delivers valuable ROI. To find out more about how Park Place service derives maximum value from every hardware investment, click here.