Exploring alternatives to OEM network maintenance

Data Center MaintenancePark Place Technologies


Patrick Holcomb April 20, 2021

Discover ideal windows when a Third Party Maintenance provider can optimally assist with the overhead of networking hardware maintenance to deliver enterprises maximum support gains and IT budget savings.   

Identifying best-fit scenarios and timescales when to make the switch to an effective TPM can feel intimidating with a deluge of vendor-initiated advisories. Conversely, at Park Place Technologies we advise customers that often the best methodology is to holistically consider the entire networking estate to reach a window of optimal opportunity via a low-risk phased adoption approach.

First, let’s get to grips with key terminology housed within these Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) advisories. End of Life (EOL) means no further hardware support will be forthcoming from the manufacturer. Hence when a manufacturer stops selling a particular device generation at the same time, they will stop updating software codes and advise ultimately when they will stop supporting the hardware with maintenance contracts, (usually known as EoSL – End of Service Life). Usually, the sequence of vendor advisory steps is uniform, but the timelines can vary anywhere between 3-5 years for a typical networking asset lifespan. Age of asset is therefore a critical factor to map as reaching ‘EOL’ in itself does not definitively trigger alternative maintenance options coming into play.  Economically, there is a direct correlation between asset age and your maintenance options becoming increasingly financially attractive through a TPM. Generally, the economics become compelling 2 to 3 years after the EOL announcement indicating one of the optimal times to start exploring options for significant contract savings across the network. It has been widely documented by leading analysts, including Gartner*, that savings of 60% or more are available using alternative network maintenance through reputable TPMs.

Some networking kits should never be outsourced:

Regardless of age, there a few clear no-go’s for contracting out of networking maintenance direct from your manufacturer. Park Place Technologies’ methodology has been designed to help customers manage the total cost for support and maintenance of all networking assets, while at the same time mitigating risk through a hybrid approach. This approach suggests placing items under OEM maintenance that are heavily dependent on subscription services and/or software updates that are only available with an OEM support contract and migrating the remainder of equipment to Park Place Technologies’ network maintenance program.  This approach will result in significant cost savings without degradation, and in most cases, will provide a far superior experience.

Setting the stall for networking maintenance options:

The first stage in any hardware lifecycle management process is to set the stall with a complete understanding of all networking assets. At Park Place Technologies for example, our Network Discovery tool automatically discovers at what stage the networking asset sits within its lifecycle noting key milestones. These milestones usually take the form of logging End of Sales dates (EOS) and End of Software Maintenance (EOSW) release dates.  (no new updates of software will be released and the OEMs only response to a maintenance request for hardware is routed through a Technical Assistance Centre to source a replacement). Manufacturers typically also throw in end of support terminology including Last Date of Support (LDOS), End of Support (EOS), and, of course, End of Service Life (EOSL).

The Park Place Technologies hybrid approach is aimed at examining the customers network assets and making maintenance decisions based on the type of product, SLA required, and long-term business needs. This hybrid approach considers all equipment including  wireless access points, fiber channel switches, and network directors across leading networking OEMs like Cisco, Brocade and HPE. Flexibility of adding and deleting networking assets on the fly is an essential component of using a TPM alongside matching networking kit to appropriate service response time agreements. Up front, check for surety from the TPM for assurances when things go wrong. As the world’s largest TPM, Park Place Technologies reassuringly offer a fair First-Time Fix™ Guarantee, meaning if the network hardware issue is not resolved on first visit, a credit without quibble is issued for the next month of maintenance on that device.

Lastly, it is worth questioning that without an asset assessment tool to guide you through the chronology and support options, will you be actively flagged of critical dates and support options in advance by your OEM for really critical networking components? Highly unlikely. OEMs prefer to operate under a blanket of automated advance notices – for product releases, forced maintenance support; issuance of EoL notices; issuance of End of Software Maintenance; issuance of EoS notices, culminating in a forced equipment upgrade notice to the next generation. It goes without saying that if you are able to identify EOS milestones and support options in advance, then you have far greater freedom of choice to make educated choices going forward. You will be in a position to understand where it makes sense to pay the premium fees for manufacturer support, and where you have the opportunity to extend the product lifecycles, reduce Opex, and delay/ defer capital expenditure by leveraging third party maintenance.

Park Place Technologies – standing by to advise your networking maintenance options in full.

Gartner*: Leveraging Third-Party Maintenance Providers for Data Center and Network Maintenance Cost Optimization, North America. Author Christine Tenneson

About the Author

Patrick Holcomb,