Technology breaks. There will always be a time when essential hardware or software components become unstable or simply stop working. To minimize the impact of such failures, it’s important to have contingency plans for the repair or replacement of your IT systems.
Managed service providers (MSPs) play a critical role in the health of your IT investments by monitoring and managing systems to detect and resolve problems. In many cases, your MSP will be able to remedy issues before you’re even aware of them, effectively preventing business-crippling downtime.
An MSP agreement won’t cover hardware failures or software updates, however. That’s why it’s important to ensure that you have comprehensive warranties, service agreements and software support plans in place. Best-in-class MSPs will help you manage those agreements and serve as an important interface between you and the hardware or software provider.
A Hedge Against Downtime
A maintenance contract with the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) can help minimize downtime while waiting for parts and service. Many such contracts include service level agreements (SLAs) for the delivery of replacement equipment. Depending upon the criticality of the system and what you’re willing to pay, such SLAs could provide next-day, same-day or even two- or four-hour response times. If you tried to obtain the equipment through regular sales channels, it could take days or even weeks.
The hardware and software components you obtain through your OEM maintenance contract will be built and tested according to the manufacturer’s specifications and standards. They will be guaranteed to be compatible with your equipment and to perform according to factory specs.
Access to Expertise
With an OEM maintenance contract, you also gain access to factory-trained technicians with specific expertise in the device or application involved. Depending upon the agreement, these technicians may come onsite to perform the repair or replacement, or work with your MSP to complete the work.
Most OEM maintenance contracts give you and your MSP access to a knowledge base of troubleshooting tips and may also provide 24x7 phone support. In addition, you and your MSP will be notified of known issues and provided with security patches, bug fixes and firmware updates.
OEM maintenance contracts are often three-year arrangements with options for different levels of coverage. After the initial warranty period, OEM support costs often increase rapidly, creating an incentive for you to replace the hardware or app involved. Your MSP can help you analyze the trade-offs between upgrading and paying for extended maintenance.
The Third-Party Option
In some cases, a contract with a third-party maintenance provider can be a good choice, and may cut costs by as much as 60 percent. There are downsides to third-party support, however. Technicians tend to have more generalized knowledge since they must support equipment from multiple manufacturers. They may rely more on after-market parts, with longer wait times for delivery — which could increase downtime.
Given these uncertainties, most experts recommend utilizing third-party service contracts for non-essential components or older gear that is no longer supported by the manufacturer. For critical applications and servers that run the businesses, stick with an OEM contract.
The IT infrastructure in most companies typically involves a complex interplay of hardware and software from multiple manufacturers. While your MSP delivers day-to-day frontline support, it’s important to maintain warranties, service contracts and support agreements covering critical equipment and applications. Let IronLogix develop a comprehensive strategy that helps keep your IT environment performing optimally.