The top three reasons to work with a dedicated hardware support partner
Recently, I was struggling to explain a maintenance offering from Atos to a dear friend who has a limited appreciation for digital technology. The breakthrough came when I hit upon the idea of using the analogy of a kitchen to illustrate the problem, which gave me the idea for this blog post.
First, clear your mind and accept that a corporate computing environment is the same as a standard kitchen. Got it? Now we can begin!
Nearly every homeowner has appliances produced by different original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). These OEMs specialize in different technologies that all have a function within our kitchen. Let's assume that a homeowner owns a washing machine built by Beko, a cooker made by Amica, and a Sub-zero fridge. In similar fashion, any IT environment will need networking, storage and servers.
Although appliance companies offer a range of products, most people tend to combine appliances from different manufacturers to get the best balance of performance and cost.
Now that you have your kitchen appliances, a sensible idea would be to arrange a maintenance package or extended warranty. For most people, the first thought is to go straight to the manufacturer. However, I would like to propose that rather than relying on support from the OEM, a better idea would be to choose a single provider that specializes in maintaining appliances from different manufacturers.
So, how can having a single provider benefit you? Let’s explore the top three reasons.
1. Less complexity
In our case, we need to arrange maintenance contracts with three different companies. That means three web applications to navigate through to create the contract, three different phone numbers to find when something goes wrong, and three different renewal dates to remember — because you cannot rely on the OEM to remind you to renew.
For a computing environment, substitute those three appliances with thousands of pieces of equipment and hundreds of contracts. When you look at it this way, the problem is immediately evident. Three is frustrating, but hundreds are a real job!
To eliminate this complexity, it is easier to have one specialist provider — with one contract to arrange and one number to call if something goes wrong. For homeowners it means they have time to go to that football match, but in a business context it means employees can focus on value-add activities instead of trivial administrative tasks.
2. Lower cost
When homeowners cannot find the right number to call in case of a fault, it likely causes mild annoyance and a slight delay in fixing the appliance. It might cost a bit of money to replace the spoiled food if your fridge goes out.
However, in an IT environment scenario, a delay in getting support is very costly indeed — especially if the fault causes downtime (systems offline). To illustrate this point, an article from CNN suggested that the 14-hour Facebook blackout in 2019 potentially cost $90 million in lost revenue. It also caused Facebook’s shares to drop 2%.
Additionally, when it comes to cost you might not be getting the best price by choosing OEM support. As a homeowner with one fridge, you do not have much room for negotiation with the manufacturer. However, a specialist support provider will likely be able to negotiate a much better price, as they are responsible for supporting thousands of fridges and receive a specialist discount from the manufacturer. They may even have the skills and parts in-house. This is the same for the IT environment, and by having a single provider, the costs of many contracts can be reduced.
Engaging a single support provider is often easier, cheaper, and more flexible than dealing with multiple OEMs.
3. Reduced exposure
Let's imagine that you have had your cooker for 20 years and have become attached to the trusty old thing. You can count on one hand the problems you've had, you cooked that romantic dinner for two on it, and it roasts potatoes exactly how you like them.
However, when you go to renew your support contract, the manufacturer tells you that the cooker is at the end of its support life and they will no longer provide parts or service. Instead, they advise you to upgrade to a new model. In the kitchen, this scenario isn't that bad. You can probably keep using the cooker until it breaks, then get a new one.
However, in technology the situation is slightly different. Imagine that your cooker is instead a file server that must be up and running 24/7 to provide technology services for staff and customers. What’s more, it may also be connected to other critical equipment, and if the server goes down it takes other systems offline with it.
Hopefully now you can see how that end of support life note from the manufacturer is extremely unwelcome. However, an experienced support specialist is often able to keep equipment running well beyond the manufacturer’s end of support life date. This means you don’t have to disrupt a set-up that is working perfectly fine, nor do you have to waste money on unnecessary upgrades.
In conclusion, I hope this post illustrates the three key advantages of engaging a single support provider for your critical hardware. If you do your homework, I’m confident that you will find that they offer easier, cheaper, more flexible services as compared to dealing with multiple OEMs.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to end the post here — it’s my turn to make dinner!