Storage Economics — Hardware Maintenance — Part 2

This blog post is a continuation of yesterday’s post about various aspects of Storage Economics as it relates to Hardware Maintenance cost.

To read about  Storage Economics — Hardware Maintenance — Part 1

Topics we covered in the previous post included

The concept of Hardware Maintenance

The Strategy related to Hardware Maintenance

The Facts about Hardware Maintenance

The beliefs about Hardware Maintenance

Here are a few other components related to storage hardware maintenance services as it fits into a concept of Storage Economics.

There was an interesting post by  David Merrill at HDS regarding how a customer in the APAC market has been able to leverage Independent Service Providers for various different assets that they own and how they decide what stays with the manufacturer and what is being maintained by Independent Service Providers.

The Plan for Hardware Maintenance

Hardware Support: Support on storage assets could be available through Independent Service Providers (ISP’s), which could help reduce CapEx, OpEx and improve ROA by levering the existing technology on the floor for a longer time span.

Remote Support and Diagnostics: Independent Service Providers can enable storage frames for remote call home features, remote support and perform diagnostics for troubleshooting.
Code Upgrades (firmware) and Engineering: This support is typically only available through the manufacturer. But here is a fact; at the end of a 3 year life cycle of the equipment (when you start paying for off warranty support) how many times have you seen code upgrades being offered to customers, since vendors are more focused on technology that is current today).

Global technical Support: Global 24 x 7 technical support is often provided by Independent Service Providers as a part of service offerings.

Onsite Certified & Trained engineers: Independent Service Providers typically hire the same engineers that have been working for the vendor and redeploy them onsite for services

Spares: Spare parts are standard offering through Independent Service Providers to have them shipped at the site within the 4-hour SLA or possibly store it as onsite spares.

SLA: Normally Independent Service Providers SLA’s are matched to vendor specifications.   Also a custom tailored support plan can be created for the test and development systems — non critical systems, which might not need the utmost priority.

Software Support: In most cases Software support can be continued with the vendor, which enables you to receive software updates for your host environment or any other layered software. If your storage platform is more than 5 years old, may be you can investigate into dropping the software support.

The Pricing for Hardware Maintenance

So typically off-warranty hardware maintenance services may be available to you at 50% to 70% discount of vendors list price since these organizations do not have a sustaining engineering cost.

This will help increase the life of the asset you already own on the floor, which is fully functional and operational.

This will further help you reduce your CAPEX (by not purchasing new assets), reduce your OPEX (by reducing your maintenance cost) and improve your ROA (an asset you have already paid for).

This savings will need a 12-month cycle to fully qualify since hardware maintenance services are charged on a monthly basis.

With 50% to 70% savings per device (Storage Frame), if you have an environment with 1PB storage, your organization could see a savings of millions of dollars over 3 years and a 5PB environment might see a double-digit million dollar savings over 3 years.

Is this something that sounds interesting and can help you overall preserve your CapEx and reduce your OpEx?

Your Alternatives for Hardware Maintenance

Are people within your organization ready and open for this concept?

Do your homework in selecting the right service provider.

It is okay to consider giving the Independent Service Providers a partial environment that might consists of Test and Development Systems, to get a better feel for their services and response times.

Compare service offerings from multiple independent service providers.

Ask the right questions and see how long transition plans would take for a cut over.

Ask questions related to outages in these environments and the Independent Service Providers experience around it.

It is completely okay to drill the Independent Service Providers technical folks with tons of questions related to your environment.

Here are some additional things to ask the Independent Service Provider:

Ask about recertification cost

Ask about reconfiguration cost

Ask for any hidden cost

Ask about spares that are used

Ask about spares procurement process

Ask about spares testing process

Ask to see their operations (visit the ISP)

Ask about support plan

Ask to access the online service calls portal

Ask about online web portal for advisories and errors

Ask about response times

Look into escalation plans

Look into call flow processes

Ask about gaps in service compared to the vendor

Ask for a dedicated trained engineer (based on the amount of business)

Ask about training for engineers

Ask for a dedicated account manager

Ask for a dedicated technical contact

Ask for sales contact for your account

Ask for escalation contacts

Ask for project plan related to the transition from vendor to ISP

Investigate how big the Independent Service Provider is

Check references, ask reference customers about outages, parts replacement process, about hardware — software issues and call ownership issues

Compare SLA’s

Check the viability of the support solution (tools, processes, escalation, risks, etc)

Do not make decision on pricing only

Determine contingency plans.

So where do you find these alternatives?

Well, your initial search can begin on the web. Following that, you should further inquire into the company and try to dig into their area of expertise. Ask them about their competition and inquire with the competition on support plans.

If you have a Storage partner, go to them and ask them to find an Independent Service Provider for your organization.

If you have Global Outsourcing partners, inquire with them, to see if they have any strategic partners they recommend.

Honestly, working with so many different customers over the world, I have seen Independent Service Providers do good, they help the customer reduce CapEx and OpEx, extend the life of the equipment and most importantly run the entire operations without any disruptions, but that said, I have seen many Independent Service Providers fail miserably to deliver on promised services.

Do the research and jump on this if it is a viable option for your organization.

Its all about  Storage Economics!!!!

About the author

Devang Panchigar

With more than 7 Years of IT experience, Devang is currently the Director of Technology Solutions and IT Operations at Computer Data Source, Inc. Devang has held several positions in the past including Sr. Systems Engineer, Sr. Network Engineer, Technical Support Manager, Director of Storage Support & Operations. He has been responsible for creating and managing worldwide technical support teams, technology solutions team, operations management, service delivery, pre and post sales support, marketing and business planning. In his current role Devang oversees multiple aspects of the Technology Solutions Group that works with various Multinational and Fortune 500 companies providing them infrastructure services. Along with various industry certifications, Devang holds a Bachelor of Science from South Gujarat University, India and a Master of Science in Computer Science from North Carolina A&T State University.

Leave a Comment