3 Myths of Data Center Hardware Maintenance

June 9, 2017

“Did you know that dropping a penny from the Empire State Building could kill someone?” As I approached the line to rise to the viewing deck, I overheard a fellow tourist talking about this phenomenon.

As the elevator lifts us further and further up the building, my heart begins to beat just a bit faster. The feeling of the true height of the Empire State begins to sink in. And then I walk out to the viewing area and I’m convinced, it is really far down and dropping that penny is a terrible idea.

Thanks to our friends, the Mythbusters, we know the penny at the Empire State Building is a myth. You cannot kill someone with a single penny, science just will not allow it. With the penny myth in mind, I set off to explore common myths of Third Party Maintenance. From cost to code to relationships, the market provides several assumptions of how TPM and OEM support differ.

Throughout the list of myths, I will reference a research report from Stanley Zaffos. You can find the original here. A special shout out to the Gartner team for completing this outstanding research piece on TPM and the strategy your business can apply to purchasing it.

Myth # 1: Microcode updates are vital to your hardware’s performance. How often do you update it?

If I were a betting man, I would bet your business does not rush to execute every microcode update. The “non-disruptive” updates tend to create system outages or require significant resources that take away from business continuity. In fact, in a quote published by TechTarget, a senior EMC official admitted that microcode updates are often ignored by customers.

However, EMC realizes that many of its customers–and there are tens of thousands of sites running multiple Clariions–don’t keep up to date with releases. “Not all those customers have upgraded to the current code … if [an older version is] stable, they may not want to go through an upgrade,” says Tom Joyce, vice president and general manager of IP storage at EMC. – “Surviving microcode upgrades”

Moving hardware to a TPM plan will in fact effect your ability to complete microcode updates. But you should ask yourself, how often do we upgrade to the newest release? If your answer is not very often, you’ve cracked the first myth of TPM.

Myth #2: Post-warranty maintenance is expensive. Just buy the new equipment instead.

 “I&O leaders who restrict themselves to vendor-supplied maintenance often find themselves doing infrastructure refreshes due to punitive vendor policies around postwarranty support pricing that means keeping systems on maintenance is more expensive than replace them.” – Lowering Both Store Acquisition and Ownership Cost by Using Third-Party Maintenance, by Gartner

It serves the OEM well to create a sense that post-warranty maintenance is expensive. You opt to purchase new equipment, which restarts the product lifecycle for the OEM. But this is not simply the only option for post-warranty maintenance, TPM provides coverage for equipment at 40-70% cost savings to your business. The cost discussion does not stop at OEM options, introducing TPM to your business can extend hardware lifecycles and free up budget to be allocated to more strategic initiatives. Crack, another myth debunked.

Myth #3: OEM or TPM. Pick one and sack the other.

They are meant to be together. Let’s consider your entire data center for a moment. You likely have mission critical equipment that if it were to fail, your business will suffer. It is also likely you maintain non-mission critical or backup hardware that may not rattle your business to much if it were to fail. Herein lies the harmony, take your mission critical hardware and push it into the OEM warranty box. In this box, you ensure the latest microcode upgrades and new parts to keep hardware running at 100%. Take your non-mission critical or backup equipment and push it into the TPM box. In this box, you ensure the hardware is repaired when needed at a substantially discounted price. Perfect harmony.

Myths do exist, like the dropping penny from the Empire State Building. They tend to be over exaggerations. It probably is still not the best idea to drop a penny from such a great height, just like it probably is not the best idea to shift all your equipment to TPM or OEM warranty. There is a perfect harmony to achieve, where your business stands to benefit from a diverse plan for maintenance. A plan that provides critical updates while driving considerable budgetary savings is the holy grail. Our team can help you asses your equipment and decide in which box each piece belongs. Once the boxes are filled, we are your one stop shop to purchase maintenance plans whether it is for OEM or TPM. Give our team a call today to find your perfect harmony for data center maintenance.