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A Guide to Creating a Valuable IT Maintenance Strategy in 2020

by Hunter Gorman, on Jun 18, 2020 12:35:49 PM

At the heart of it, IT lifecycle management and asset maintenance can get very complex - but when you're considering changes to your approach I think it's very simple... Can you quantify the value of your current strategy, or not? "
- Erin Ohlgren, VP North American Sales

If you're reviewing your maintenance strategy for upcoming maintenance renewals, check out our webinar for a primer on both OEM and Third-Party Maintenance & pick up some tricks of the trade we've learned over the years.

Erin said it best when she mentioned how complex IT asset maintenance can become and that's not without good reason, there's a lot to consider: SLAs, install locations (not to mention the complexities of country-specific regulations), age of your network hardware, the cost of replacement spares & more!

Before getting overwhelmed, but with those things in mind, this is your guide to all things maintenance - we'll cover the basics of maintenance, different approaches that companies take to protecting their network infrastructure, what we like to call the Three C's to Maintenance & we'll even look at evaluating the value of your current maintenance strategy with some free resources for you to take with you as well.  Ready, Set, Go!

A Quick Primer to Level the Playing Field

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of maintenance strategy and ways to account for nuance in your companies approach, let's quickly cover the basics of the two most common types of IT asset maintenance: OEM Maintenance and Third-Party Maintenance (or TPM).

OEM Maintenance

If you've ever heard of SmartNet from Cisco - this is the best example of an OEM Maintenance offering.  OEM Maintenance can be really beneficial for current generation gear & when your use-case isn't mission-critical.

Third-Party Maintenance

Known and referred to as TPM by many, Third-Party Maintenance is exactly the same as OEM maintenance but TPM is provided by a company that is not the original equipment manufacturer, generally these companies have sparing networks, made up of field stocking locations around the countries they operate in, where mission critical infrastructure is kept near their customer's install locations.

Everything Takes Some Strategy

Already we can begin to see the strong similarities and striking differences of these two maintenance approaches & anytime there's complexity around high-stakes decisions, it's never a bad idea to have a strategy. Maintenance is certainly no exception to this rule so let's examine a few common approaches companies take when crafting their IT asset maintenance strategy.

The Two Poles

While it may sound like a single strategy - we're really talking about the choice many companies make to either put all of their IT asset maintenance towards one options or the other, OEM maintenance and third-party maintenance, respectively.  Individually, while both options are adequate for some companies, there is a lot of truth in the old saying "don't put all of your eggs in one basket..."  this goes for your IT hardware too.  Pros-and-cons exist to standardizing your coverage entirely one way or the other.

In-House Approach

A bit of an outdated strategy for most use-cases, in-house sparing was once the gold standard to ensuring uptime but as networks became more complex and required more infrastructure this approach became harder to execute while still making the financial element of this approach make sense.  We see this all of the time when helping clients craft maintenance strategies and while there are elements of the approach that still hold true and make the most sense - generally speaking, customers are amazed by what they can gain for less-significant financial investment. 

Hybrid or Blended Methodology

The 'sweet-spot' as we like to call it.  Even though we provide third-party maintenance to companies in more than 160 countries globally, we'll be the first to tell you that sometimes TPM isn't the best fit.  At the same time, OEM maintenance alone often leads to forced upgrades and a much shorter asset lifecycle than may make sense for a company.  With that in mind, companies are seeing tremendous value in taking a hybrid approach to their IT maintenance. Using a hybrid approach let's your company take the best of both worlds and maximize their coverage with a significant reduction in their investment.

These are three widely popular approaches to a need that has a seemingly endless amount of solutions. We dive deeper into each of these and look at a few newer strategies our customers, and companies around the world, are using in their IT lifecycle management during this webinar.

Three C's of IT Maintenance Strategy

To make sense of all of the strategy and nuance surrounding maintenance, our research team set out to look at how companies were making decisions about their approach to maintenance and came up the Three C's of IT Maintenance Strategy.  The first of the words is Coverage which looks definitively at maintenance providers' SLA's, locale and coverage areas, flexibility to meet complex needs of coverage and the mechanics of the coverage itself. The second, Cost, takes a look into the what and the why behind the cost of coverage for both OEM maintenance and TPM.  The researchers also examined cost-benefit-analysis methods from companies around the globe to create templates, referenced and provided as part of a webinar, to help companies examine their maintenance strategies and drill into the actual return on their investment.  Finally, Clarity looks at what maintenance providers (including OEMs) say their support products provide and compares them to the actual methods and practices taken when delivering maintenance as a service to their customers. You can think of clarity as a simple question, "Is what you see what you get?" followed with, "Why or why not?"

So... Can You Clearly Point to Value or Not?

Value... What an overused word!  The term is used so often that many have become almost numb to what it really means and it feels like you almost can't have a discussion without the value word coming up.  As mentioned a little earlier in this blog post, our team of researchers took on the term and worked to define the value of maintenance as well as create a framework to evaluate value in terms of IT asset maintenance.  

If you clearly see the overwhelming value of your current maintenance strategy, great! That is something you should fight to keep! Value is something we're keen on evaluating with our customers throughout the term of their maintenance coverage with OneCall.  If you can't point to the overwhelming and unquestionable value of your current approach, that is okay, too - but it may be an opportunity to rethink the way you protect your network or data-center's critical infrastructure to ensure uptime.  If that's the case, you're in luck, we've made our research accessible to you, more below.

Tools for Tough Questions

Tough questions, like those of value can be overwhelming, even in just finding a starting point for your evaluation.  Because of this inevitable fact, there are many great resources to help you evaluate your current maintenance strategy or to help you create a new one all together. Check out this webinar for cost/value analysis templates you can take with you, a Q&A with Erin Ohlgren who gets specific to the ways companies are creatively covering their most critical infrastructure & more on the Three C's of IT Maintenance Strategy.

To sum it all up - there is so much to IT asset maintenance and lifecycle management that it truly could make your head spin - we've barely scratched the surface.  When evaluating changes to your strategy or creating a new strategy all together, it's important that when you decide to work with someone, having that someone act as a partner to you can mean the difference in ensuring uptime or not - equating to real and significant losses if done incorrectly.  To learn more about having OneCall be your partner to navigate these complex decisions, click here or check out the webinar for more!

Topics:OneCallTPMWays to Save2020Research

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