TPM, ITSP, VAR, MSP: What’s the Difference?

Park Place Hardware Maintenance

Parker July 01, 2022

Managing a data center successfully is a balancing act. For most organizations, it requires working with an outsourced provider to deliver critical services and solutions along the way. However, finding the right providers can be confusing, and industry jargon doesn’t help matters.

TPM vs. ITSP vs. VAR vs. MSP

If you’re struggling to tell the difference between a TPM, ITSP, VAR, and MSP, you’re not alone. In this post, we’ll explore the differences and help you make an informed decision about which type of outsourced provider is the best fit for your specific needs.


TPM stands for third party maintenance. These providers offer post-warranty support on data center hardware when the manufacturer’s coverage ends and you don’t want to pay exorbitant fees for an extended warranty. A TPM provides a full range of maintenance-related services, including troubleshooting, replacing failed components (or entire systems), and configuring replacements. In some cases, TPMs can offer limited software-related services (such as configuring new hardware within a specific software environment). Many TPMs on the market will also offer preowned IT hardware solutions ranging from spare components to entire units/systems.


ITSP stands for IT solution provider. On the surface, this sounds similar to what TPMs do, but that’s not the case. ITSPs generally offer whole solutions for their clients that go beyond hardware and include software and services, such as developing custom applications and the like. ITSPs can also create custom add-ons that work with third-party software, and more.


VAR stands for value-added reseller. VARs tend to focus on the sales aspect of the hardware game, but sometimes do offer services, including a few managed services. However, they do not offer the same breadth of services that other outsourced providers do. Note that these companies only sell third party hardware and software, and they do so at a considerable markup. Additional services are made available as “value-added” offerings, which can include things like setup and configuration, consulting, and even training on new systems/technologies.


MSP stands for managed services provider. These companies focus mostly on services and security. However, they can sell hardware products that are related to their services. Remote monitoring is usually one of the most important services offered (for a monthly fee), but MSPs can also offer hardware maintenance, disaster recovery/backup services, reporting/compliance, and more.

OEM Reseller Support

OEM reseller support is probably the most familiar of the concepts we’ll cover today. In this situation, you purchase IT hardware from a licensed reseller, who then provides support to you, either directly from the OEM or in a collaborative effort where the OEM provides backline support.

Which Is Right for Your Needs?

While the industry’s alphabet soup (TPM, ITSP, VAR, MSP) can be pretty confusing, each outsourced provider offers something slightly different. For the majority of organizations, the right choice is to work with a third party maintenance (TPM) provider, such as Park Place Technologies. Why is that, though?


First, we are completely brand agnostic and offer multi-vendor hardware support. That’s not something you can say about many other providers, particularly OEM reseller support. We support brands from NetApp to Cisco and everything in between. It’s not just a question of support, though. Our certified, L3 engineers have in-depth OEM experience, but also complete cross-brand training. They’re as knowledgeable about IBM systems as they are DataDomain and HPE technology.


Once the manufacturer’s warranty expires, you’re forced to purchase a costly extended warranty. We offer superior coverage for 30-40% less than what the OEM charges, ensuring that you get the protection and coverage you need without having to blow your budget.


We realize there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. That’s why we offer flexible service level agreements (SLAs). And for those who need immediate solutions, we can offer a four-hour on-site response time. However if you don’t need urgent assistance, choose an agreement that features our next business day response times. Whatever your needs are, we have an SLA that will fit!


We love to brag about our engineers. We employ some of the industry’s most qualified engineers all around the world. Not only do we source these technicians from the same hiring pools as IBM, Cisco, and other OEMs, but we work with local talent to minimize the language and culture barriers. We focus on solutions, not creating additional hurdles.


Finally, you’ll find that our global network of 900+ spare parts locations helps to ensure that no matter where you are in the world, you’re never far from the replacement components that you need.

Get the Support That You Deserve

By this time, you should have a better understanding of the various outsourced providers in the IT industry (TPM, ITSP, VAR, and MSP). Each one brings something unique to the table, although there is some blurring of the lines from one type to another. For those concerned about hardware support and longevity, working with a TPM like Park Place Technologies is a critical consideration.

Get in touch with Park Place today to see how our data center hardware maintenance and IT infrastructure managed services can support your IT team’s needs.

About the Author

Parker, Park Place Assistant