1. How Do You Define Data Center Hardware Maintenance?

One of the biggest problems with defining maintenance is that many vendors have different definitions. It can become confusing when you’re presented with a myriad of offerings all purporting to offer data center hardware maintenance services. The truth is, in many cases, these solutions are offering you just a portion of the functionality required to give companies a true data center hardware maintenance customer experience.

A true data center hardware maintenance offering is about integrating the entire customer experience. Whether companies are engaging data center hardware maintenance due to aging infrastructure, or due to not wanting to or needing to re-engage the OEM for further warranty, or due to needing an insurance policy of sorts to ensure uptime, choosing the right vendor is essential for success.

2. What is Your Background?

This one may seem obvious, but it is a critical question. Many vendors offer what are simply point solutions, providing you with only one of the pieces required to deliver a data center hardware maintenance service. This leaves you, the customer, to act as the project manager and to spend valuable time seeking out the right vendors, partners, services, and integrations required to piece together an effective solution that includes parts, shipping, SLAs, warehousing, and more.

Ask yourself if you are ready for all that and if you have the time that is needed to become an expert in many different areas.

3. How Do You Plan to Get Me There?

A true data center maintenance solution will deliver a consistent experience with integrating offerings created to suit your specific needs. You should be able to choose coverage hours and response times, ranging from next business day to 24x7, access to a network of experienced technical engineers, and you should save time and money with a support solution that fits your needs and schedule.

Third-party maintenance agreements offer incredible flexibility. Options include guaranteed response times; fixed service schedules at a fixed rate; a 24/7/365 support help desk; customized support packages with spare parts stocked within a certain distance of the customer’s sites; and comparable maintenance costs for legacy and current-generation equipment. Furthermore, third-party maintenance technicians have in-depth expertise through extensive experience servicing a wide variety of equipment from multiple manufacturers.

4. Where Do I Get Started?

To achieve a true data center hardware support experience, you need a vendor that follows these five distinct steps:

1. Onboarding orientation before the service start date

2. Provide coterminous agreements with flexible terms

3. Manage your IT budget effectively

4. Provide tools that help you manage your data center hardware lifecycle

5. Find value in retired IT assets

Moving to third-party data center maintenance services can be an incredibly smart business decision. However, unless these steps are not part of the engagement, it is not the right move.

The reality of the situation is, overall, data center managers often do not have experience with third-party services that offer support benefits not provided by the OEMs. But by engaging the right vendor with the right processes who offers a flexible third-party data center maintenance solution, equipment is consistently well managed and maintained, thus it is always in optimal condition.

5. What Comes Next?

To be honest, this is a difficult question to answer. It depends on your systems and business needs. As you know, for more than ten years data center hardware has consolidated around virtual machines. While servers have become increasingly powerful, their usefulness has increased exponentially. In other words, fewer devices run more services that are an integral part of the business. As load can easily be distributed horizontally rather than continuously upgraded, these devices are retired less frequently. This means data center hardware is in production linger and carries more critical loads.

The trend towards fewer devices running business critical services makes third-party maintenance plans indispensable to the enterprise. It is key that your maintenance vendor builds a foundational IT infrastructure plan for maintaining assets that is ready to evolve and accommodate advances and evolutions in your business model. This will keep your company at the forefront and will enable you to deliver a superior and consistent customer experience by ensuring your IT infrastructure is sound and running at all times.