Questions to ask your potential support vendorHave you decided to go with third-party support for all of your maintenance needs in your data center, but you don’t know where to start your research to find the best independent support vendor? Then this blog series is for you. In the first installment of the series we discussed how important it is that the vendor of your choice supports multiple OEM brands. We also talked about questions surrounding parts testing and availability. Today you’ll learn the questions you should ask to gain clarity on your actual maintenance agreement.

What Does the Support Process Actually Look Like?

When researching independent support vendors it is important to understand exactly how the vendor will support your data center. So, if a problem occurs, getting it fixed as quickly as possible is the highest priority. This means taking into account the vendor’s call center and if they would monitor your system to start repairing the problem or would you have to put in a support ticket yourself to get the problem fixed? If something does go wrong does your support vendor have a domestic, U.S.-based help desk? How long would it take to speak to an engineer? Do you have a direct contact?

A large factor in getting problems within your data center fixed quickly is checking with the potential vendor to see what information is needed prior to opening a ticket. Having all the necessary information before a problem arises is key to reducing downtime in your data center. Also, make sure to get clarification on that vendor’s escalation procedures, so you have a clear understanding of that process prior to the point at which escalation would be required.

Is the Maintenance Agreement Simple to Understand and Manage?

Maintenance agreements can be complex documents, but that complexity should correlate to the complexity of the data center itself. If the maintenance service agreement seems overly convoluted or complicated, it may be hiding some hidden language that could alleviate some of the responsibility from the vendor and place it on your staff, instead.

A maintenance service agreement should also be flexible when it comes to adding, moving, changing, or deleting equipment from your agreement. It is important to choose a support vendor that can keep pace with the changes within your data center environment. You should also find out about the available SLAs for your equipment as it ages. We warned earlier to beware of overly complicated service level agreements, however you also want to make sure the maintenance agreement isn’t too simple. A “one-SLA-fits-all” approach from your support vendor can cause issues down the road. Different aspects of your data center may require a different SLA. Do you need the same level of coverage for your testing or development system as your production environment? While some organizations may want the downtime wiggle room of having everything under one SLA, you may want some flexibility in choosing which coverage level is the right choice for your requirements. Even if you don’t need the flexibility of putting individual systems or groups of systems onto different SLAs now, you may want to consider that option in the future. It’s worth asking up front in case the need may arise.

Now What?

Deciding to switch to third-party support can seem nerve-wracking, but we want to arm you with the knowledge you need to make the best decision for your organization. Stay tuned for the next post on interviewing a potential independent support vendor. In the mean time, if you would like to learn more about our maintenance services, contact one of our support specialists or give us a call at 1.877.227.0828.