16 Dec Final Thoughts
As we come to the end of this book, let’s review what we’ve learned.
You cannot avoid the central issue or push/pull that is part of every IT executive and procurement professional’s world. Money or cost is a constraint that always inhibits the paradise view of what IT systems and infrastructure is expected to deliver. You know this because you’re in the middle of it daily.
However, you do have real options. You can get better at managing your hardware from OEMs and the maintenance and support agreements that follow. We all want to do our job well – that’s our responsibility.
In this book, we’ve shown you the options and demonstrated that TPM is a viable alternative to the OEM for your maintenance and support. The world of IT maintenance and support ultimately is not a one-size-fits-all game. Using the OEM exclusively, in most cases, is not the best and only solution. Doesn’t it make sound business sense, at a minimum, to explore your options?
Throughout this book, we’ve laid out some good questions to ask or show you new ways to look at things like the OEM’s SLA, ecosystems, risk vs. reward, perceived risk vs. real risk, software updates, end-of-life, and more. In the Appendix, we’ve shown a process and checklists you can adapt to your own shop.
Finally, ask yourself a simple question: Why pay more? What is the risk in exploring TPM options? We’re successful players in this industry and active in industry associations. We know the analysts, the OEMs, and the huge support system that can be brought to address your situation.
Let me know if you have questions about anything in this book or if we can help you create a better, winning scenario for your organization.
Appendix One: IT Maintenance Risk Assessment Format
As your organization begins to consider various options for IT long-term maintenance, it is imperative that you have the facts and analyze the true risks.
We have developed this tool and divided it into two major sections:
Internal Analysis of what your network infrastructure looks like, how you are currently managing maintenance, and what the true
External or Vendor Analysis to determine options that should be considered when evaluating potential support services or deciding to stay with the OEM or to manage some of the maintenance internally.
- Do you have a full list of all assets owned with the model number, serial numbers, date of purchase, manufacturer, and exact location?
- Take a realistic look at how your current system is performing. Do you know your downtime, major incidents, and Service Level Arrangements (SLAs) for each area of your operation?
- If you currently use an OEM or TPM for maintenance, do you know how many tickets you opened last year or how many per month?
- If you do some maintenance in-house, do you also have a similar tracking mechanism as in number three above to track all maintenance issues?
- Have you determined true mean failure times and potential useful lives for essential equipment? Do you have your own method of tracking or are you relying on the OEM to tell you when you need to replace or refresh?
- How many times do you get software updates from the OEM? Was there a cost for the updates? Many devices can reliably function on earlier versions of software updates. What version(s) of software are you using? How stable is the software? How do you determine when/how to update software for each piece of equipment? (The risks of doing the updates cannot be discounted. Sometimes the updates actually increase instability.)
- Have you surveyed the team on “worst case” and “what you can live
External TPM Analysis Process
User concerns about TPM providers generally center on their lack of access to the manufacturer’s development team, support infrastructure, and maintenance tools.
Based on our history with large and small clients, many users have decided that this is a manageable risk, particularly when supporting non-mission-critical workloads or stable software environments.
The following due diligence script enables users to quantify TPM provider risks quickly, understand support offerings, and gain insights into their support effectiveness.
“The Five Steps to Achieve a Hybrid Maintenance Solution” from Christine Tenneson’s “How to Leverage Third-Party Hardware Maintenance Providers for Cost Optimization”:
- Maintenance Assessment
- Research OEM Policies
- RFI With TPMs
Within the vetting process it always comes down to the organization you feel most comfortable with or trust that, at the same time, delivers on your price point expectations. A key event in the process usually involves a technical vetting conference call where you can have discussions with the Tier 3 or 4 backline engineers. Your Tier 4 team will engage if you have a serious problem beyond simple drive or power supply replacement issues. The Tier 4 engineering team should be able to make you feel comfortable in minimizing any risk concerns.
Common sense tells us to ask for references. This is obviously encouraged, but ask yourself: does anyone ever really provide bad references?
Kind of like everything in life, at the end of the day you must ask enough questions to engage in adequate dialogue that tells you that TPM can perform
up to your expectations and deliver at a price point you are ecstatic about.
- What is your coverage area: USA or global if needed?
- What is your go-to-market strategy channel vs. end-user direct?
- Where are your parts locations and how are worst-case scenarios handled?
- Is your support center or NOC USA based or overseas? What about Tier 1 support?
- Do you have monitoring or phone home availability?
- What is the process to open a ticket: call an 800#, send an email, contact the portal, etc.?
- Do you provide only break/fix maintenance or do your Tier 3-4 engineers offer additional support, i.e. configuration assistance or software knowledge?
- What is your escalation process?
- Is your SLA a guarantee? Ask the OEM as well.
- Explain your overall service delivery process from opening a ticket to resolution
*You may want to ask: Are you a member of the Service Industry
Association and subscribe to their code of ethics?