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

Myths and Facts - NorthSmartIT - IT Hardware Maintenance

Jonathan Coleburn, Director of Field Operations


Deciding between Third-Party Maintenance (TPM) and Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) support is a question many organizations wrestle with when renewing their IT maintenance contracts. And while many companies feel more comfortable working with the OEMs, the reality is that choosing to work with TPM providers could be the better option. The advantage of working with a TPM is giving many companies today creative alternatives to the usual OEM options of “renew with us” or “replace with new”. Often, these options will reduce maintenance cost and focus on the bigger picture of the organization’s IT infrastructure.

Why then do so many companies initially hesitate to move away from OEM support? Scott Liebelt, Director of Multivendor Services for NorthSmartIT, recently talked to us about three myths regarding TPM that businesses should understand before deciding between OEM and TPM support.

Myth Number 1: Switching to a TPM provider is risky and the savings won’t be worth the risk.

You might be pleasantly surprised.

It’s a common belief that working with a TPM provider will put your business at a high risk. It comes from the misconception that these providers 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 an agnostic support partner rather than a OEM can offer benefits for your business on multiple levels:

“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 Number 2: Only OEMs have the skills to support your devices.

Not true.

The idea that because an OEM engineer’s focus is on a single platform they provide a better service isn’t true. The multi-platform training that TPM engineers receive allows them to 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 do this? 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 Number 3: Only OEMs have access to the right parts.


This one originated during the early days of IT maintenance when third party providers only had access to old or low quality parts. In fact, most of the OEM’s today have specific equipment channels which TPM’s have access to.  Additionally, the OEM’s have partnered with certain TPM’s, providing contractual access to equipment which is then used in support of TPM contracts. TPM providers not only have access to all the same parts as the OEM, they can even service your devices after the warranty on those devices has expired. Liebelt explains why this difference 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.”

Making the Decision – It’s not all or nothing

The decision to work with OEM or TPM providers should be an informed one. Understanding the facts about the two options can lead a business to potentially leave a majority of devices under OEM support, while moving some devices to TPM contract where significant savings can be realized and the life of a device extended. 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.” Yet another reason why working with an agnostic partner like a TPM provider can deliver unexpected value to the business.


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