3 Myths about Third-Party Maintenance Providers vs. OEM Support

Myths and Facts - NorthSmart - IT Hardware Maintenance

Jonathan Coleburn, Director of Field Operations

What is Third-Party Maintenance?

Third-party hardware maintenance provides a number of services to keep your IT hardware functioning, and is often less expensive than what you would receive from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). A third-party maintenance service outside of an organization’s internal system can offer more flexibility in how service requests are handled. This means that when issues arise there will be a quicker response time and service experience as well.

What is OEM Maintenance?

When companies buy hardware products like servers, storage, and network from brands such as Cisco, HPE, or NetApp, they will typically provide an initial period of support and routine maintenance, during which time the company can offer hardware support service related to your purchase.

After this point, there are options for post-warranty service solutions at an additional cost, depending on what type it might be (end life vs new). Oftentimes, these network infrastructure have some degree of obsolescence, including terminal lives intended specifically, so that replacements may arrive more quickly than expected.

Third Party Maintenance Definition

TPM is a great way to extend support for your network equipment and IT assets beyond the warranty or service agreement. EOSL means that third-party maintenance providers will step in when networking equipment reach their end and built-in help also ceases. This can be expensive if you’re stuck with another pricey upgrade of costly repairs.

Is it a Legitimate OEM Alternative?

Yes, it is. Third party maintenance is a service that some people choose to do instead of going through their manufacturer. There are those who think it’s better because the OEM wants you replace their “defective” product, while TPM does not want this for anyone and will work on keeping your current equipment running as long as possible. Any necessary repairs, updates, or maintenance solutions will then be provided at a much more affordable price point.

Advantages of Third Party Maintenance

#1 Significant cost-savings

Through a TPM, you’ll be able to see significant cost reduction on your monthly spending on maintenance and upkeep. Savings will vary based upon the type of server or storage hardware installed and how much they cost, but getting help with be easier and cheaper than ever before!

#2 Meaningful service enhancements

The maintenance agreement with third-party providers is much more customizable to the needs of different customers because TPM engineers have varying levels or experience with certain products. For example, some may only want upgrades for firmware, while others might need updates and patches. These needs-based service management tools and offerings are what makes TPM attractive to many.

#3 Granular customization capabilities

If your company recently procured new hardware, changing may not be in your best interest. However, if you have varying OEM service providers and see the need to simplify or extend lifecycle without an impact on service operations, TPM can give access to multi-vendor environment expertise, dedicated support teams, and meaningful cost savings.

#4 Extended hardware lifespan

The best way to extend the lifecycle of an asset without impacting operations is by reviewing opportunities for postponing technology refreshes and avoiding capital expenditures. Can products be supported longer with a plan in place? TPM provides the technical expertise from OEM-trained technology specialists and service industry experts who can deal with even the most complex systems without forcing you to purchase entirely new hardware. You can continue to take advantage of your equipment’s useful life post – warranty.

#5 Increased return on investment

When you use a TPM provider, they will be able to give your company the service options that are best for it, not to mention a dedicated and exceptional customer experience. They might offer way more affordable services than OEM warranties or extended coverage plans because of their lower prices. You could save on costs by up 60-70% compared with OEM product offerings.

Third-Party Maintenance vs. OEM Support: 3 Common Myths Debunked

For many organizations, renewing their IT maintenance contracts is a difficult decision. Deciding between Third-Party Maintenance (TPM) or Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) support can be critical to company success because choosing the wrong option may cost more in the long run, with reduced performance and functionality for both current users, as well new hires on board at any given time. The wrong choice could also restrict real-time service event actions, which can result in massive downtime. And nobody wants these costly service interruptions.

For some businesses it’s not enough just having an excellent technical staff – they need someone who can guarantee reliable services and knows how each aspect of your business workflows interact so there are no fatal flaws when things go south.

Some companies hesitate to move away from OEM service capabilities because they believe it will be difficult or time consuming. However, many businesses now have the option of choosing between one-off upgrades and full TPM deployment services that can provide them with all their software updates in a more cost efficient manner.

Scott Liebelt recently addressed three myths about TPM within NorthSmart’s portfolio for IT managers who are making this decision:

Myth #1: Switching to a TPM provider entails risk and the savings aren’t worth it.

You might be pleasantly surprised, but a third party maintenance program actually makes more sense.

It’s a common belief that working with a third-party service might put your business at a high risk. It comes from the misconception that these secondary hardware suppliers are limited in the scope of their abilities to work with all devices, and that the quality of service of the TPM will not compare favorably with the OEM. However, as Liebelt points out, working with a support partner that’s agnostic and applies to all, rather than a OEM that’s limited to a brand, can offer multiple benefits for your system and business as a whole.

“An agnostic support provider has the ability to lifecycle not just a single OEM, but many, into categories such as; Generally Available (GA), End of Life (EOL) and End of Software Support (EOS).  It’s from that categorization that educated decisions can be made in regards to OEM vs. third party maintenance.” Additionally, Liebelt states, “the average savings moving from OEM to TPM support ranges from 40% to 60% annually.”

Myth #2: Only OEMs are equipped to deliver what your devices need.

This is not true.

The idea that because an OEM engineer’s focus is on single product lines they provide better hardware services isn’t true. The multi-platform training that TPM engineers receive allows them to provide comprehensive services and walk into any IT environment and analyze any multi-vendor technical challenges. In fact, even most OEMs outsource their field service delivery to a third-party organization. Why would they outsource hardware services? Liebelt explains that there are two obvious reasons:

“First, OEMs are in the business of designing, developing, and selling hardware – not maintenance. Second, a global field engineering staff of W2 technicians is a financially difficult model to sustain; so they outsource.  In many of those cases, third party providers use the very same field engineers as you would get when buying OEM support, when not, we verify the specific OEM and device model skills prior to a contract assignment.”

Myth #3: Only OEMs can provide the right parts.

This is, again, false.

This myth originated during the early days of IT maintenance when a third-party service only had access to old or low quality parts. In fact, most of the manufacturer-provided hardware support solution today have specific equipment and spare parts management channels that third-party professional services have access to.

Additionally, the OEM’s have already partnered with certain external multivendor services, providing contractual access to equipment that is then used as a viable option for network maintenance contracts. TPM providers not only have access to all the same parts as the OEM, they can even service your machines well after the warranties on those have expired. Liebelt explains why this is important:

“The OEM’s are not in the business of sustaining EOL or EOS devices, they’re in the business of developing new devices to replace your existing ones, which is why your support costs continue to rise after the initial warranty period.  TPMs, on the other hand, are in the business of not only supporting your post-warranty devices but also sourcing, testing, and stocking those older devices.”

The Bottom Line: Making the Right Decision

Deciding between signing up with OEM or third-party hardware maintenance services should be an informed one. Understanding the facts about the these two can lead a business to potentially leave a majority of devices under OEM support, while moving others to low-cost alternatives like TPM contracts where significant savings can be realized and the life of a device extended.

Consider the service levels offered and if single contract or if flexible options from a hybrid solution will bring you more advantages. Evaluating your current technology infrastructure is significant in determining your technology budgets. If you have different OEMs under one roof, multi-vendor support might make more sense.

Finally, Liebelt reports, “often a TPM provider will do an analysis of current OEM contracts and uncover additional information that is helpful to the business – whether that’s equipment that is EOL/EOS, has a SLA that can be changed, or has even expired.”

This is yet another significant reason why choosing to agnostic engineering assistance provided by a TPM provider can result in valuable gains for your business.


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