In today’s highly competitive industry, every business strives to become more efficient in its day-to-day operations. This goal of greater efficiency also applies in IT, especially now in the digital age. But despite the considerable workload for the IT professionals, the growth rate of the allocated budget hasn’t grown at an equal rate. Due to these tight budgets, it’s become necessary for the IT departments to think of creative ways of improving efficiency while reducing business costs.
One of the first places to start is network support as it can account for up to two-thirds of the allocated budget. The two available network support options for businesses are third-party maintenance and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) support. This article would discuss an in-depth look at these two network support solutions.
What Is Third-Party Maintenance?
Third-party maintenance (TPM) is hardware support offered by an independent service provider and is an alternative to OEM support. They differ from OEMs in that they only specialize in providing cheaper maintenance and resale services instead of manufacturing hardware and offering support. In addition, third-party maintenance specializes in a broader range of services and servicing older product models, which is excellent news considering that OEMs don’t service older products.
The different services offered by TPM providers include:
- Datacenter hardware
- Ongoing maintenance support
- Extended warranty service options
- Remote monitoring
- Network support
- Server repair or replacement
- Data storage solutions
- Maintenance coverage for different equipment
The benefits you’ll have with third party maintenance are the following:
- Saves you money: Prolonged contracts with OEM are usually expensive. Manufacturers do this to try and have you buy newer equipment technology and not support old technology. Therefore, working with a third-party maintenance provider is a great alternative as they have flexible contracts that can fit your allocated budget. This move can end up saving you between 30-70% of what you’d have paid for an extended OEM warranty.
- More responsive support: TPM providers offer affordable warranty and maintenance services to existing end of service life (EOSL) and end of life (EOL) equipment from many OEM branded gadgets. This makes them a better alternative to OEMs who are focusing on technological innovation and overwhelmed with too many service requests. Therefore, TPM providers offer their services and quickly act on an issue as they spend considerable time and money perfecting their support operations.
- Single Point of Contact (SPOC): With a TPM provider, you get to enjoy a single point of contact for your different IT equipment. This differs from OEM support where you’ll be required to manage several contracts and deal with numerous vendors. You shouldn’t have a similar issue with a TPM provider as they can handle all your different equipment, meaning there’s only one point of contact.
- Highly trained specialists: Working with a TPM provider is also advantageous as they hire technologically skilled and experienced engineers who can solve problems with equipment from the different OEMs. This isn’t a privilege you’d get when you opt for OEM support as the technicians only boast the know-how to repair issues with their particular brand.
What Is OEM Support?
As its name suggests, this support is provided by the product’s manufacturer and is undoubtedly the most common. OEM network maintenance starts right after buying and setting up the item from the manufacturer. Some OEMs will provide you with free setup and support services for the first couple of months after completing your purchases as a sign of goodwill. However, OEM support will only apply for a specified duration, usually one to three years after buying a piece of equipment.
After a couple of years, there’ll be a drastic increase in the price for the OEM support. The product manufacturer does this intentionally for two main reasons:
- Increase sale of new models: Product manufacturers are constantly thinking of clever ways to sell new products, and they do this with their existing customer base. This is achieved by increasing how much they charge to maintain and repair older models. But as a customer, this proves to be inconvenient as it means digging deeper into your pocket for support and maintenance services.
- Support service training: The OEM staff receive adequate training on how best to service a machine that’s presently in use. And for every new product line, these manufacturer’s staff need to get additional training. If a lot of machines are currently in use, this translates to prolonged training. Manufacturers see this as an unwanted cost since a considerable sum of money goes to supporting older models. To reduce these costs, manufacturers slowly start phasing out older models and eventually remove them from their training programs altogether.
OEM support can be very frustrating once the warranty expires as you’ll have to pay for post-warranty support. When this happens, you’re left with two options—switching to a new model or paying for the increased service fee. While neither of these is cheap, getting newer upgrades might look like a more affordable path to take.
But upon closer analysis, this isn’t the case as both are expensive in the short and long term. This is because you’ll need to pay for new hardware and its installation, which is a labor-intensive activity. In addition, there’s the possible corruption and loss of data during the data migration process. Consider the pros and cons below:
- You can request support online
- You’d be provided with software support
- You’re granted access to a wide knowledge base
- You get advanced replacement programs
- You’d be provided with basic to advanced support thanks to in-depth engineering knowledge
- It’s hard to create personalized support agreements
- It’s expensive compared to third-party maintenance, usually costing over three times what independent maintenance contractors charge.
- It only applies if you buy new equipment.
- Dead on arrival (DOA) cases are very high because of not testing replacement equipment.
- The quality of support services has fallen in recent years.
Both OEM support or TPM have their advantages and disadvantages. But before deciding the right pick, you need to consider several factors, including hardware lifecycle extension, maintenance costs, flexibility, response or coverage times, and hardware expertise. After doing this, you’ll see that third-party maintenance stands out as a desirable pick, especially if you’re looking to make significant savings on your repair and maintenance costs.