By Bernie Armstrong, SSCS Senior Sales Manager, EMEA

This article will address those individuals that are already familiar with Third-Party Maintenance (TPM), as well as those that are unfamiliar. Certainly, the purpose for this content is to provide consultative guidance to data centre operations and IT procurement professionals, helping them to understand the timing of engagement and the best methodologies to capitalise on OpEx (Operational Expense) in Data Centre Hardware Maintenance.

To explain quite simply, Third-Party Maintenance is a hardware support alternative, offered by organisations independent of the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer), but are able to specifically offer tremendous cost savings for the hardware support of servers, storage and networking assets that have reached post-warranty status. Many companies (e.g. 71% of Fortune 100, as per Gartner) are now using a hybrid hardware support model to reduce OpEx. Since the average data centre contains 20-22% post-warranty assets, the cost savings can be bountiful and beautiful.

Familiar with the TPM Industry – When to Involve or Engage

When:

1. When the executive team has conveyed a cost containment mandate.

2. Ideally, six months prior to the renewal date for the eligible IT assets. Such a seemingly long window is helpful for a few reasons, but the TPM may need time to help you identify post-warranty hardware and triage eligible assets from those that should remain under OEM support. As well, your availability for a handful of advisory discussions shouldn’t be rushed, so the transparency offered by the TPM can be fully absorbed.

3. At any point you’re about to make a hardware purchase decision, but would appreciate an independent and unbiased perspective. Not all business drivers necessitate a “net-new” hardware purchase. Perhaps your current hardware is n-7 (seven generations back from new), but designated applications don’t always need new. Perhaps you can buy n-2 systems and have it bundled with third-party hardware maintenance. To maximise savings, this is a near perfect scenario. Before jumping too quickly with any hardware CapEx purchase, have an open and transparent dialogue with a TPM – especially one that does NOT sell pre-owned hardware.

4. If you self-maintain any assets and the cost or risks have grown too high. Many TPMs will offer cost-effective Smart Hands options or even T&M (Time and Materials).

• How:

1. If you’ve not yet chosen 2-3 TPMs from whom you’ll accept consultation, we suggest it is best to start with Gartner. The foremost expert on the TPM industry is Christine Tenneson. If you have a Gartner subscription, schedule a discussion to get input on which TPMs best fit your needs. If you don’t have a Gartner subscription, you should at least connect with her at LinkedIn. Christine has analysed the global TPM market, and has direct and strategic dialogues with all TPM players. At the minimum, get the names of 4-5 TPMs you can further research independently.

2. In addition to reading a few websites, look for those that provide educational and helpful blogs. You’ll often gain a great sense of style from company blogs, especially those that are prepared by staff, and not a marketing department. Is it too pushy to recommend our blogs?

Look for TPM case studies. What have they done and for whom? Have they quantified any part of the impact they had on their clients’ business?

Feel free to contact me for any additional guidance.

Unfamiliar with the TPM Industry – When to Involve or Engage

When:

1. When the executive team has conveyed a cost containment mandate.

2. Now! Enough said. Well, it’s only fair to offer an additional reminder. When your data centre hardware asset base is approximately 20-22% post warranty (aligned with global averages), you stand to save 10-12% off of your Total Hardware OpEx!  It would be a travesty to postpone your familiarity with the industry niche any longer.

• How:

1. As previously mentioned, start with an unbiased perspective from Gartner. The foremost expert on the TPM industry and its value propositions would be Christine Tenneson. If you have a Gartner subscription, schedule a discussion to get input on which TPMs best fit your needs. If you don’t have a Gartner subscription, you should at least connect with her at LinkedIn. At the minimum, get the names of 4-5 TPMs you can further research independently.

2. Look for those TPM websites that provide educational and helpful blogs. A few TPMs provide regular blogs that are incredibly easy to understand, yet offer deep insights. Why not take a peak at our blogs?

3. Look for TPM case studies. What have they provided, for whom and what was the measurable result? I’d suggest to be cautious of those case studies that appear more like a brochure, than a case study.

4. Feel free to contact me for any additional guidance.


Bernie Armstrong, SSCS Senior Sales Manager, EMEA

Bernie joined SSCS in 2017 in a sales leadership position for the UK and EMEA marketplace. He has over 30 years’ experience in IT consultation and IT sales positions. He previously held account management or sales positions at RMG Networks, Emulex, Sphere 3D, Syncsort, SITS, Tectrade, StorageTek and Comenco. In addition to spending time with his family, Bernie is incredibly passionate about music – playing and singing, even as far as a stint with a regionally popular band in the 80s. If you agree to a face-to-face discussion, it’s likely he will agree to playing some videos from the “good old days.”

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