There are three basic elements to the lifecycle of every data center gear - the acquisition of hardware, its maintenance, and its disposal. While historically, data center operators turned to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) for the first two and handled the latter themselves, when it comes to maintenance, there is a cheaper, and more effective solution - third-party maintenance (TPM).
For many organizations, TPM turned out to be an even better solution than OEMs, as they often have 24/7 support, spare parts on standby, and an experienced team that knows the nuances and intricacies of data center hardware, regardless of the manufacturers.
All of this, and then some, at a fraction of the cost it would take to get help from OEMs.
OEMs often have rigid policies, particularly when it comes to hardware maintenance. TPMs, on the other hand, are happy to work around every business’ budget and IT environment.
The short story - it saves money while providing a better service.
And now for the long story:
Original equipment manufacturers are oftentimes a global business. That means they’re capable of serving customers worldwide, but when it comes to assisting them during a crisis - they could be pretty sluggish. While OEMs might take a couple of days to respond to an assistance request, TPMs have local engineers that can react quickly.
By teaming up with engineers all over the globe, TPMs are a lot more agile than OEMs, in that respect. They often collaborate with thousands of expert engineers that can respond to any request within hours.
TPMs understand where their strengths lie, so they’re playing on maximum uptime, often offering a 24/7 helpdesk, and having spare parts for most commonly breaking down gear, on hand. The majority can answer a date center inquiry within half a day.
The best TPMs will have powerful supply chains of their own, giving them access to the same storage gear as their OEM counterparts. High-quality vendors will also test any refurbished gear, making sure all the components they install are reliable. That means making sure any pre-owned hardware has been reset to factory settings, and that its performance matches that of brand new equipment. What’s more, with at least a one-year warranty on most of the gear, there is very little risk involved.
TPMs can also move faster than OEMs in terms of acquiring spare hardware parts. Original Equipment Manufacturers often need to order extra gear from manufacturing plans across the seas, while TPMs have the ability to contact nearby providers.
Keeping data center hardware in good health can be quite an expensive endeavor, with some managers having to devote as much as two-thirds of their budgets to maintenance. With cheaper maintenance without sacrifice to quality being top of every manager’s agenda, TPMs turned out to be a real godsend.
Third-party maintenance partners can be 70 - 80% cheaper than OEM maintenance - all the while offering the same level of service, as well as the same quality of the hardware.
OEM-employed engineers and repairmen are knowledgeable and experienced, no doubt about it. However, they have only been trained for the gear sold by the OEM, and are often capable of only troubleshooting issues related to OEM-built gear. Point them to a problem by a different OEM, and you’ll most likely come up empty-handed.
For TPMs, that’s a non-issue. Most TPM engineers are trained and experienced in cross-platform issues, making them a better-suited option in today’s multi-platform, multi-vendor world. OEM engineers will be certified for their brand, while TPM engineers will be certified for most of today’s brands.
Food for thought
Historically, data center managers partnered with original equipment manufacturers for the acquisition, installation, and maintenance of their storage gear. However, time has shown that OEMs can oftentimes be slow to respond, limited by their internal policies and hardware, and expensive, at that.
Third-party maintenance service providers rose up to the occasion, often being faster to respond, being able to handle issues from different vendors quickly, all while being cheaper from their OEM counterparts. The gear they repair and install must pass through rigorous testing and obtain the necessary certifications, and with warranties, data center operators stand to gain a lot, while risking very, very little.