Questions to ask a potential support vendor

Are you considering third-party maintenance for your organization? As with any major investment, it is important to do your research to help you make an educated decision. When researching potential support vendors, you should come armed with questions to gain a better understanding of the services offered to find the right vendor for your organization’s specific needs. To better prepare you for researching independent support vendors, we are bringing you this interview guide for evaluating potential third-party maintenance vendors. The first installment of this series will provide questions surrounding support for multiple OEM brands as well as parts testing and coverage.

Can the Vendor Provide Support for Multiple OEM-System Brands?

One of the complications with choosing OEM support for your storage, server, and networking equipment is the multiplicity of support contracts. Your data center likely has multiple OEM vendors represented: EMC, NetApp, Brocade, Cisco, and more. Using OEM support for all of the different brands in your data center may seem ideal for your organization at first. However, keeping track of all the different maintenance contracts can become unwieldy very quickly and can lead to equipment lapsing in coverage. This can be a very costly mistake. You may then have to pay recertification fees to the OEM support provider in order to regain coverage on the equipment. Third-party support providers may not charge you with recertification fees if equipment lapses in coverage, however, you should also ask if your potential vendor can design your maintenance agreement to co-terminate in order to avoid this issue altogether.

Additionally, vendors that support multiple OEM brands allow for a single point of contact when it comes to entering a support ticket. This decreases downtime and allows an easier way to manage your data center. It is important to know that the OEM can sometimes support equipment outside of their brand, and this will be done through an outside or third-party maintenance provider. However, the cost for this will be significant, and going with a third-party maintenance provider outright can save you the cost and hassle of having multiple service contracts to manage or adding other vendors onto one OEM support contract.

How are Parts Tested and Stocked? What is the Availability and Coverage of These Spares?

When choosing the best coverage for your organization you should also consider the many other factors that come into play. You may select an SLA that guarantees an engineer will be on-site within 4 hours of an incident, but it is also imperative that the correct parts arrive as well. In order to ensure that you will have the correct parts, you should ask the vendor about how they stock parts for your systems. You will want to get clarity about where the vendor’s forward-stocking locations are, so you can make sure you will have access to the right parts when you need them. You can also ask about whether the vendor can also provide options for keeping mission-critical parts onsite.

An additional aspect of the parts used by a third-party maintenance provider involves how the replacement parts are tested. You will want to make sure that the equipment going into your data center is up to the highest standards. When considering third-party maintenance vendors, ask about their testing procedures for their spares. Not every testing process will be the same. Reliant Technology, for instance, verifies all spares through our rigorous 8-step testing process that we call the Reliant Rock-Solid Certification Program. To learn more about our Rock-Solid Certification process, read more here, or reach out to one of our storage support specialists.

What's Next?

Deciding to switch to third-party maintenancecan 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