Common Third-Party Maintenance Terms

The third-party maintenance industry is undoubtedly a niche group. With our own language and terms, knowing what a third-party maintenance company is trying to say can be difficult. To help make sure you have a complete understanding of the terms you may see when researching providers or reviewing proposals, here are some common third-party maintenance terms you need to be familiar with:

TPM – Third-party Maintenance
Hardware support for server, storage, and network equipment. Third-party maintenance is an alternative to traditional Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) warranty and post-warranty support.

Pure Play TPM
A designation for companies whose primary line of business is third party maintenance; they do not have a secondary hardware business.

Maintenance & Support
Skills and requirements for supporting servers, storage, and networking devices, including troubleshooting, fix and repair failed hardware, and maintaining and extending the life of legacy systems.

OEM – Original Equipment Manufacturer
Hardware/software manufacturers, including Cisco, Dell/EMC, HPE, IBM, NetApp, etc.

EOL – End of Life
According to the OEM, this means the equipment has “reached the end of its useful lifespan.” After this date the manufacturer will no longer be marketing, sustaining, or selling the product.

EOSL – End of Service Life
The date when the manufacturer not only stops selling a piece of equipment, they no longer offer maintenance services and support. EOSL is the final phase of a piece of equipment’s lifecycle in the OEM’s book.

SLA – Service Level Agreement
An agreement of services in the form of a written agreement arranged amongst the OEM or TPM provider and the client.

Help Desk 
A department inside an organization that is responsible for answering the technical questions of its users. Most major IT companies have set up help desks to respond to questions from their customers. The questions and their answers are usually transferred using e-mail, telephone, website, and/or online chat.

On-Site 
This means the Services are to be performed at a Customer location (“Site”).

FE – Field Engineer
An engineer sent on-site to complete the hardware replacement or fix.

Tier 4 Engineer
Customer support requiring expert-level knowledge of complex issues sometimes exceeding traditional break/fix issues.

Asset
Unlike in the accounting definition, in maintenance, this is commonly taken to be any item of physical hardware or equipment.

ITAM – IT Asset Management System
Refers to the set of business practices combining contractual, inventory, and financial functions. ‘IT assets’ generally refers to all hardware and software licenses present in the business environment. ITAM helps in keeping track of all assets purchased or rented by the organization.

Hardware
This means tangible IT equipment, devices, or components.

Server 
A computer which may be used to provide services to clients.

Storage system 
Consists of computer components used to retain data.

Networking 
Also known as network equipment or computer networking devices, these are electronic devices required for communication and interaction between devices on a computer network.

Knowledge is power, and in this industry, it can be the difference between getting the service you need and being left out to dry. Now you will always know what TPM providers and OEMs are trying to tell you or what your FE says is inside or outside your SLA. Just remember, if you are looking for the best service and satisfaction for your third-party maintenance needs, contact S3P ASAP.

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