IT Maintenance Provider - Third Party Maintenance

Let’s get real: if you have to call your IT maintenance help desk, that means there’s a problem. Nobody likes having problems, so nobody likes calling for IT maintenance. But in an ideal world, at least they wouldn’t make your problem worse than it already is.

In the data center, speed is everything. The longer it takes to get equipment fixed or replaced, the longer your downtime. But – whether you like their products or not – OEMs can be slow at solving problems, let alone solving them quickly.

There’s a good reason for this: SLAs from manufacturers are mostly an afterthought; a bonus to sweeten the deal and boost sales. After all, a vendor’s bottom line is measured almost exclusively in sales, not repairs or service deals.

In this article, we’ve compiled a few of the most common complaints we hear about the OEM maintenance cycle from our customers. Do any of them resonate with you?

1. Getting Someone

On many levels, complaints about OEM maintenance overlap with complaints about IT support, and that extends to the call center. Nobody likes talking to robots, then listening to elevator music for thirty minutes before speaking to a rep.

Unfortunately, that’s what you’re likely going to do, because call centers are specifically designed to employ the minimal number of staff at any given time, meaning you are almost guaranteed to be placed in a queue. How long you’ll have to wait is a matter of sheer luck, but we say the best wait is no wait at all.

2. Getting THE RIGHT Someone

Once you’re finally patched through, you’ll need the right set of technical chops before a service rep is sent your way. For simple issues, it might not take that long: but as anyone who’s worked with IT equipment knows, problems aren’t always easy to communicate, and the right technician isn’t always easy to identify, especially when you don’t have on-site support to figure things out.

3. Resolving Issues

Once you are in, and once you’ve got someone who can help, you have to get the issue resolved. This can take a long time, especially for customers with large operations, lots of equipment and complex problems.

Before anyone is sent to help, the OEM will often have to check service logs, machine profiles, sometimes escalating through different tiers of consultation internally. Occasionally, you may be waiting for a couple of days before your issue is finally addressed.

4. Juggling OEMs

If you’re like any other enterprise in the world, you aren’t running your entire organization on a single vendor. Not only will there be multiple machines in your data center from many manufacturers, but they will be configured to work with one another in complex ways.

When you need service from multiple OEMs, or – heaven forbid – multiple OEMs at the same time, getting support can be a logistical headache as you coordinate several calls for several technicians who can only work with one family of products at a time.

5. Human Issues

Remembering this simple truth can help you to understand most of the pain-points you’ll hit with OEM maintenance: manufacturers get paid for their products, not their support. While you’re getting fed up with the hassle, chances are, the support team is getting fed up too.

It’s not their fault that they’re underpaid, undertrained and overloaded with queries. Then again, it’s not your fault either when things become heated or tense. This sort of thing just goes along with IT support.

6. SLA Headaches

SLAs – or Service Level Agreements – lock organizations into a support relationship with their vendor, and they’re supposed to benefit you by providing unambiguous ground rules about what you can or cannot expect.

But to paraphrase a certain Captain Barbossa from a certain Disney film about pirates, “the code is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules”. Most companies know what it’s like to argue with a rep about what is and isn’t covered by the SLA. But in the event your vendor plays fast and loose with interpreting their end of the bargain, there’s usually some legalese which lets them off the hook.

Third-Party Maintenance: A Better Way

OEM maintenance is annoying. So what? You still need servicing when problems arise, and it’s not like there’s another, cheaper option – or is there?

Third Party Maintenance (TPM) providers offer the same services as an OEM, nix many of the drawbacks, with many advantages. To name a few, TPM providers are:

  • We make our living service IT equipment, not selling or upgrading new hardware.  We have to be good or we would not be in business.
  • Smaller and therefore provide faster, more personalized support
  • We know you have smart IT teams that can tell a hard drive failure from something more complex, allowing us to rapidly deploy resources to facilitate the repair without wasted time qualifying the need for an on-site tech.
  • Experienced down the support chain, meaning you’ll be connected to someone who knows what they’re talking about the first time you call
  • Competitive: they provide high-quality support because it’s not an obligation; it’s a business model
  • Multi-Vendor: techs are versatile and provide a single point of contact for different systems/machines

If you’re suffering from common maintenance provider woes, TPM provides an affordable and flexible middle road that will keep your data center up and running without the headaches.

Professional TPM Provider 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.

EOSL, IT maintenance, end of service life

EOSL Extension: When it Makes Sense, and When it Doesn’t

Last month, we wrote about end of service life (EOSL) extension and why third-party extension services can be a better investment than upgrades or extended warranties. However, the discussion on EOSL can’t end there because – inevitably and in all cases – the cost of maintaining hardware will eventually exceed the cost of replacing it.

As Jason Maxham observes in his timeless Repair or Replace,

“The need a broken machine was serving is the most important consideration: if it can be met at a lower cost some other way, fixing becomes unnecessary. If the need is still present, but has grown or diminished, then upgrading or downgrading should be on the table.”

In short, deciding whether to extend the service life of a deprecated asset reduces to a simpler question: when does it make sense to replace it?

We’ll tackle that question first by killing off two big myths about service life.

Myth #1: Deprecated Means Useless

Thinking in analogy, a systems admin might believe that keeping expired hardware around is like using Windows 98 in 2019. It’s slow, cumbersome and ridiculous – right?

Whether to upgrade involves a simple consideration: does the system still adequately serve its function? When the answer is “yes,” then retirement is unnecessary. 85 percent of hospitals instead of cell phones, simply because they work, and they work especially well in the medical environment.

Myth #2: Usable Means Useful

At the same time, most companies won’t be utilizing 4 year old servers to deploy new applications or cloud solutions.  Even if it is usable, that does not make it useful. An organization’s technological need grows with the world around it.

Technical debt should not be overlooked when determining whether a system remains “useful”. Microsoft – once the world leader in consumer electronics – famously failed to win any significant share of the smartphone market simply because it came to the game too late.

Likewise, in the data center, remaining on legacy systems while competitors move onto better efficiency, power utilization and automation will cost in the long run even if it produces short term savings.


Measuring the Value of Equipment

With two myths out of the way, it’s clear that extending service life can often be the right decision up until a point. Deciding when it’s time to replace equipment means understanding and gauging its value.

  1. Operating value – how much value does the equipment provide an organization daily? This quant can be assessed by estimating impact of failure.
  2. Salvage value – although less important than other measures, the value of equipment in terms of parts or scrap is significant especially as it becomes more expensive. The salvage value of equipment also depreciates as time goes by.
  3. Technical value – technical value is the inverse of technical debt; if a system is still reasonably modern and will remain so for the foreseeable future, then its value is higher than a system that will be long surpassed next year.

When a data center’s operations are projected for the coming year or business quarter, the sum of these three values should exceed the cost of replacement. When that balance shifts in the opposite direction, then a data center is paying extra for the privilege of using outdated systems.

Useful Questions

Here are four useful questions administrators can use to decide whether EOSL extension is appropriate at any given time:

  1. Over an arbitrary period, how will the cost of third-party maintenance compare with the cost of a warranty or warranty extension?
  2. Are there recurrent issues with the deprecated hardware? If so, how serious are they?
  3. How does the latest hardware compare with current systems in terms of performance and features? (assessing technical debt)
  4. How costly would it be for the hardware to suffer critical failure?
  5. Can third-party maintenance extend the useful life to allow for migration and upgrades on your terms, not the OEM’s terms.

When enough questions have been asked and answered to assess whether EOSL extension is expedient, it can be useful to project a date past which the systems should be replaced. This gives a timeline for routine evaluations and alleviates the burden of guesswork from maintenance.

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.

Cisco Unified Computing System support

The Cisco Unified Computing System is the first integrated data center platform that combines industry-standard, x86-architecture servers with networking and storage access into a single unified system. The system is intelligent infrastructure that uses integrated, model-based management to simplify and accelerate deployment of applications and services running in bare-metal, virtualized, and cloud-computing environments. Employing Cisco’s innovative SingleConnect technology, the system’s unified I/O infrastructure uses a unified fabric to support both network and storage I/O. The Cisco fabric extender architecture extends the fabric directly to servers and virtual machines for increased performance, security, and manageability.

Cisco UCS helps change the way that IT organizations do business, with benefits including the following:

  • Increased IT staff productivity and business agility through just-intime provisioning and equal support for both virtualized and bare-metal environments
  • Reduced TCO at the platform, site, and organization levels through infrastructure consolidation
  • A unified, integrated system that is managed, serviced, and tested as a whole
  • A comprehensive management ecosystem that supports complete infrastructure provisioning and management that can make your Cisco UCS instance anything from a bare-metal enterprise application engine to a multlicloud containerized environment. Locally hosted tools give you a range of options and Cisco Intersight software as a service is emerging as the solution to help you manage all of your assets worldwide.
  • Scalability through the ability to manage up to 10,000 servers with Cisco UCS Central Software and to scale I/O bandwidth to match demand, with a low infrastructure cost per server.
  • Open industry standards supported by a partner ecosystem of industry leaders
  • A system that scales to meet future data center needs for computing power, memory footprint, and I/O bandwidth; it has hosted five generations of servers and three generations of network fabric in its highly simplified blade server chassis—and is poised to continue to support future generations of servers and networks.

When we first entered the server market in 2009, the challenge was to prove to our customers that we could out-innovate our competitors, and that we were committed to the market for the long term. Today, we are still the only vendor to offer a unified system that eliminates the tedious, manual, error prone assembly of components into systems, providing instead a system that is self-aware and self-integrating and that brings true automation to IT operations.

Our commitment to the marketplace has been demonstrated by a rise to join the top tier of server manufacturers in just three years, with more than 56,000 customers and more than 150 world-record performance benchmarks. We have continued to innovate and demonstrate our commitment to customers and to the server market. With three generations of fabric technology supporting modular upgrades to the system’s connectivity, and with even more generations of Intel Xeon and AMD EPYC processors incorporated into our products, we are demonstrating our strong support for customer investments and our readiness to take our customers into the future.

Download the full UCS Solution Overview from Cisco.

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.