Efficiency is everything in the IT world. From cost to labor to functionality, efficiency is the focus of businesses around the globe. As businesses adjust to the digital age, they expect efficiency among their IT professionals as well, which is one of the reasons — despite the skyrocketing workloads of IT professionals — IT departmental budgets only grew by $2,000 last year.
With such tight budgets, finding new ways to cut costs and improve efficiency is more important than ever. For many businesses, network support is one of the best places to start. Network maintenance and support costs take up to 70 percent of the average company’s IT budget, which is considerable given the costs of labor and equipment involved in IT. Most companies can reduce excess costs to their IT budget by finding a better source for their network upkeep.
Concerning network support, there are two options available to businesses today: support from your manufacturer or support from a third-party provider. It’s important to understand the differences between the two and what they mean for your business’ bottom line.
What Are the Differences Between Third-Party and OEM Network Maintenance?
Better known as OEMs, Original Equipment Manufacturers are the network equipment brands with which you’re familiar. From Cisco to Juniper to Alcatel-Lucent, OEMs often offer both equipment and support services for their users. One of these support services is network maintenance.
OEM-sourced network maintenance often appears to be the best option for IT professionals, and is marketed as such by the OEMs themselves. The most notable benefit for businesses using OEM support is the ability of the provider to ship spare parts from warehouses when IT equipment fails. Third-party providers often lack this option. With such detailed service and a deep understanding of the equipment, OEMs offer a viable support option for many businesses. It’s logical to think that OEM network maintenance providers must be the best maintenance resources for businesses, but they’re neither the best nor the only choices available.
OEM Network Maintenance services often come at reasonable prices immediately after you’ve first bought and set up your equipment. Some OEMs offer free support and setup services in the first few months after your purchase as a show of goodwill. After a few years, you may notice a sharp rise in your support bills. This isn’t a clerical error, and it’s likely part of your service contract. OEM support services do this intentionally.
The reasons for this price increase include the following:
- Support Service Training: OEMs train their support staff to service any equipment currently in use. This means expanding their training with each new product line. The more equipment currently in use, the lengthier the training. This also means support staff takes longer to get from the interview to the phone line. By increasing the cost of supporting older models, OEMs encourage their users to update their systems. This makes it easier to phase out older models and omit them from their training programs. This is called the equipment’s End of Life, or EOL.
- Bolster Sales of New Models: Increasing the pricing schedule of older models encourages their users to upgrade. This in itself is an attractive prospect for OEMs, as it increases the sale of new products and product lines. It’s also sensible from a business standpoint, as your current customer pool is your best source of new business. While good for the OEM, it’s inconvenient for users, incurring considerable costs either way.
Businesses using an OEM’s hardware and support service face a frustrating choice every time their OEM deems their hardware as outdated. They can either deal with increased service charges or switch their hardware out for the newer models. While the upgrade may seem the cheaper option in the long haul, hardware upgrades are extremely expensive in both the long and short term. Not only is there the immediate cost of the new hardware, but also the considerable labor needed to install the equipment and migrate data — plus the costs of potential data loss and corruption involved in the migration process.
Third-Party Network Maintenance is the alternative option to OEM network maintenance. While OEMs both manufacture and provide support for their hardware, third-party maintenance providers work primarily in support and resale services.
The lack of investment in hardware manufacturing is an important factor in distinguishing third-party service providers from OEM support services. The focus on affordable resale and maintenance services rather than hardware design and manufacturing means the incentive for these businesses is to provide the best service for the widest range of products, maintaining a wide range of OEMs and older product models. This is especially valuable, considering OEMs’ reluctance to service their older products.
What Are the Advantages of Third-Party Network Maintenance?
Third-party support providers are usually the most efficient maintenance service option for businesses of all types. A focus on service means your company benefits in many ways, including the following:
- Cost Savings: Businesses of all sizes are constantly on the hunt for new ways to reduce costs without sacrificing quality. Switching from an OEM to a third-party network maintenance solution is one of the best ways to do that — but exactly how much do you save with third-party network maintenance? NetGuard alone offers savings from 50 percent to as much as 90 percent.
Third-party support services do this by customizing and streamlining your maintenance service plans. OEM support providers offer inflexible pricing schedules with hidden fees and seemingly random increases in price. This often results in a higher monthly bill for your company, no matter how minimal your service needs. On the other hand, third-party support providers offer transparent pricing schedules with more service options, reducing your bill while increasing the quality of your service.
- Increased Efficiency and Flexibility: Most data centers use equipment from several OEMs. Usually, this is a result of cost, an OEM switch or simple IT staff preference. Whatever the reason, such a collage of equipment can pose an expensive problem when it comes to support. Using equipment from multiple manufacturers means you may end up talking to several OEM representatives every time there’s a problem you can’t pinpoint. Not only can this be frustrating for your IT staff, but it can also extend the length of your downtime. It’s also expensive for your business, resulting in massive support bills and lost business connections.
The solution for businesses in this position is a cross-vendor support service that offers basic support for a wide variety of OEMs. While some OEMs offer these kinds of support services, they run at a much higher rate than normal. For third-party providers, however, this kind of service is standard. Independent support companies are often certified at the same level as OEM support staff, and can troubleshoot a wider range of brands and equipment models. This way, you can deal with all of your network problems through a single point of contact.
- Extended Equipment Lifespan: Most OEMs will advise you to replace your equipment before its EOL date. This is usually five to ten years after the release of the model. Once the EOL date has passed, the OEM will cut off their support for that hardware. However, the average functional lifespan of network hardware is often more than double what your OEM tells you, ranging from 18 to 33 years. Unfortunately, the lack of support from OEMs results in more than 85 percent of users prematurely tossing their old systems. To solve this dilemma, third-party providers offer support for older hardware up to 10 years after their EOL dates, effectively extending their lifespans and reducing replacement costs for their users.
- Customizable Plans: Of all the problems with OEM service providers, the lack of flexibility is the most frustrating for businesses. OEM support services usually come at a single flat rate that covers all the OEMs’ basic support functions, most of which only apply to certain business types. As your equipment ages, this rate increases, as do any fees incurred for “special” support services. For most businesses, this means you end up paying extra for the services you need, while still paying a flat rate for services you never use. Third-party support service providers offer an alternative solution: customizable service plans. Instead of paying a flat rate for a fixed package of services, you can choose the specific services you know you’ll use. You pay for what you need — no more, no less.
- Better Service: An incredible 81 percent of OEM users reported some level of dissatisfaction with their providers. Among the complaints filed was the claim that providers misrepresented the value of the services they provided. While OEM support providers often boast about the value of their services, their value is actually relatively low. Despite how much you’ll pay for an OEM service provider, the services covered in their flat rate are superficial, and any detailed troubleshooting or diagnostic services stay locked behind a steep paywall. When you choose a third-party service, you can expect professional-level support at a reasonable price.
These benefits have convinced many businesses to switch from OEM to third-party network maintenance. However, many companies still enjoy the benefits offered by OEM support services, particularly their ability to ship spare parts for failing equipment.
Instead of dedicating themselves to one option or the other, many companies choose a balance between the two types of network maintenance providers. These businesses usually seek basic support from a third-party provider, turning to an OEM when they have more specific needs.
A high-quality, third-party support service can help you to further minimize your OEM service needs. If that’s what you’re looking for, then Worldwide Services’ NetGuard Maintenance is what you need.
What Makes NetGuard Better than OEM Services?
When it comes to third-party providers, quality varies. Higher-end companies often mirror OEMs in their pricing schedules, while low-end providers offer a cheap option in both price and quality. It’s often tough to find a company that strikes a balance between quality and cost. NetGuard offers the best option in each category, offering functionality beyond that of most third-party support providers while keeping costs low.
Some of the most notable benefits of NetGuard over either OEM or other third-party service providers include:
- Single Portal Service: Juggling multiple passwords for all the OEMs your company uses can be confusing. This is especially true if your company uses more than four OEMs. Netguard offers a simple solution — a single web portal that allows you access to all your maintenance agreements and plans, as well as past and future orders.
- Vast Troubleshooting Capabilities: NetGuard supports over 200 past and present product lines from a wide range of manufacturers. From Cisco to Ciena to Oracle, our field-tested technicians know it all. With over 30 years combined experience in troubleshooting and managing major OEM brands, our team can handle anything.
- Equipment Substitutions: Equipment fails, and when it does, so does your system. It can take days for replacement equipment to arrive, and every day you wait is another day your profits plummet. Be prepared for every situation with NetGuard’s Cloud-Sparing™ program. This program protects your critical systems from outages, arming you with ready-to-install spares. We’ll store this Worldwide Supply owned equipment on-site so you can deploy it immediately with the help of our 24-hour support line.
- Impressive Response Time: Worldwide Services has service centers and warehouses around the world. Why? So we can see each one of our markets in person. As part of our service guarantee, we offer four-hour on-site service from our top-notch engineers and technical staff.
With all these incredible benefits, it’s no wonder Worldwide Services sports a customer satisfaction rating of 99.9 percent!
Learn More about NetGuard
Globally recognized as the premier networking equipment provider and partnered with over 14,000 businesses, Worldwide Services is a company that prides itself on its exceptional customer service. Regardless of the location or circumstance, we support each one of our customers with quality consulting and technical support services.
All our services keep up with the highest industry standards. We do it because, at Worldwide Services, we strive to offer our clients the best quality in the industry.