Third party maintenance support for aging IT systems

When hardware warranties expire or systems reach their end of service life (EOSL), there’s good reason for concern: the industry standard for data center reliability is 99.99%, and one system going offline for seconds can have disastrous consequences. A data center depends on well-maintained, dependable equipment that won’t cause downtime, latency or needless expense.

The average length of a manufacturer warranty is about three years, and once that time is up, DCAs are often conflicted about how to proceed.

There are four basic strategies for approaching post-warranty maintenance:

  1. Hardware Refresh

A sizeable number of companies will prefer to reduce the risk of system failure by simply replacing hardware as soon as the warranty expires. This is the most straightforward approach to maintaining operations and service life.

Advantages: By replacing hardware every few years, companies ensure that their systems are up-to-date. This approach also reduces the risk of equipment failure and brings a new service lease with it.

Disadvantages: This is the most expensive and labor-intensive approach to data center maintenance. It is also unnecessary in most cases: systems will generally function long after a warranty expires, and expiration only represents the maximum amount of time a manufacturer can offer service on the same equipment profitably.

  1. Warranty Renewal

Many hardware manufacturers offer clients the opportunity to “renew” their warranty for a fee. From an operations perspective, this means that nothing changes – techs will show up when called and provide the same services as before.

Advantages: A warranty renewal is the most seamless way to extend hardware’s “shelf life”. Until the renewal expires, operators can proceed as normal without worrying about replacements or DIY repair.

Disadvantages: Equipment sales constitute the bulk of revenue for most hardware manufacturers, and service policies are therefore designed to encourage equipment replacement. As such, warranty renewals are often excessively costly, and do not represent the true cost to maintain systems post-warranty.

  1. DIY Maintenance

Some data centers will opt to end their relationship with a manufacturer after warranty expiration and go solo, addressing issues as needed.

Advantages: Depending on the condition of hardware, DIY maintenance can be very inexpensive. Operators will not pay a premium for regular checks or commit to any service which isn’t strictly necessary.

Disadvantages: DIY maintenance assumes that a data center has access to miscellaneous OEM hardware, a competent team of technicians, and proper understanding of common failures in order to effectively stock spare parts for anticipated failures. Unpredictable repairs can be costly.  As companies are not in the business of repairing failed IT systems, this approach typically results in inefficient IT.

  1. Third Party Maintenance Extension

This lesser known option is a middle-way between warranty renewal and DIY maintenance. Companies can work with third party maintenance (TPM) providers who offer the same functions as the OEM, usually on a much more cost-efficient basis.

Advantages: TPM life extension is generally less expensive than OEM warranty renewal but provides the same services. For the OEM, maintenance is an afterthought; for third party providers, it’s a business specialization, and their staff are typically certified OEM technicians.

Disadvantages: Finding a good TPM provider can be difficult depending on location and need. Some TPMs operate no differently than the OEM in terms of addressing service needs and service call justification.

Professional EOSL Extension for Northern Virginia

Located near the booming data center corridor in Loudon County, VA, Digital Tech Inc provides rapid response maintenance services including EOSL extension, spare parts, short- and long-term maintenance agreements, migration assistance and depot repair options. Our skilled engineers offer multi-vendor support, covering IBM, HP, Dell EMC, Cisco, NetApp, and many more.

To learn more, contact us today.