In this edition of Voices of the Industry, Michael Cantor, Chief Information Officer of Park Place Technologies explores how third party maintenance providers can help make your data center OPEX management smarter, easier and cheaper. 

third party maintenance

Michael Cantor, Chief Information Officer, Park Place Technologies

Managing data center OPEX in the new year doesn’t have to be fraught with affordability or manageability issues. One successful strategy to streamline overhead costs without compromising services or jeopardizing new projects is via elected use of Third Party Maintenance (TPM) providers, who offer zero disruption for digital innovation journeys but with radically revised cost points for support and maintenance.

Cost calculations show that effectively using Third Party Maintenance providers can deliver cuts of over 60% on OPEX budgets with Gartner reporting that ownership costs could be slashed by leveraging independent, vendor-agnostic, maintenance contracts to the fullest. But it’s not an option that OEM hardware suppliers are openly discussing as it threatens rolling support and lucrative maintenance agreements while jeopardizing cycles of costly renewals and while negating end of life penalties.

Third Party Maintenance (TPM) providers can streamline overheads and make OPEX easier and cheaper. (Source: Park Place Technologies)

In response, one common concern that OEMs cite is the need for customers to retain the manufacturer’s maintenance in order to receive software updates, but in reality, these updates drop dramatically in line with the age of hardware. Moving away from OEM support is a break decision that tens of thousands of customers have already taken, many of whom are Global 1000 organizations – transitioning fast and without interruption from defacto OEM contracts. Gartner has recognized TPMs as an official alternative supply category for over six years, again noting that when adopted wisely, the cost savings can be staggering.

That’s really the key to slashing OPEX without negative repercussions – wise adoption and thorough diligence before you shortlist select TPMs to quote for the switch. A few background checks before reaching shortlist stage will greatly assist cost saving ambitions and critically will mean zero compromise in service levels in the transition process.

Identify TPMs that offer similar, or even better, levels of global support than you currently have across locations

Often OEM hardware suppliers will state lack of detailed engineering experience as a potential risk factor for switching maintenance to a TPM. Specialist maintenance providers have been in existence and operating within the data center for years – for instance, maintainers for printers, servers, storage, networking. It’s a tried and trusted approach that brings the capabilities of best of breed maintainers who critically also have deep engineering capabilities and knowledge of other elements in the infrastructure to surpass an OEM’s individual brand capabilities.

The key is to narrow the field towards identifying established TPM leaders that can offer 24/7 support for the entire infrastructure right across the globe across all mainstream brands. Doing this successfully involves asking detailed questions about backend ticketing capabilities, as this is the chance to move from multiple support tickets to one source of fast reassurance, action and reporting.

Geographically, shortlisted TPMs should demonstrate global footprint on every continent and a presence in hundreds of countries that will likely exceed the engineering manpower capabilities of the OEM.

Let the TPM help create the business case for the data center

A good starting point for data center leads is to map hardware priorities to understand associated service levels. Once resources and processes are ranked in terms of criticality for business, shortlisted TPMs can be invited to assess and quote for support and maintenance savings. They will further discover and assess estate assets, establish required SLAs and identify annual OPEX savings in a strong business case and provide detailed recommendations to move forward.

Satisfy that stocking levels of TPM are adequate

It’s important to understand the likely volumes of stock held at a TPM for when replacement parts are needed fast. In the current long lead-time conditions offered direct from manufacturers, often TPMs can ship replacement products far quicker than OEMs due to the vast inventory held. Check that all equipment is rigorously tested by the TPM before dispatch to avoid failures onsite. Lastly check with the TPM if a lifetime warranty exists on all shipped equipment. Often, respected TPMs will do much of the hard work for you creating the business case, by taking a holistic approach to what is within your infrastructure and after analysis, will offer transparent, easy to use and understand calculations that demonstrate the savings.

Michael Cantor is Chief Information Officer of Park Place Technologies, where he leads the delivery of technology initiatives to improve Park Place’s internal and customer-facing capabilities while ensuring the globalization and security of Park Place’s systems as the company continues to expand.

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