What exactly is Third Party Maintenance, and what are its pros and cons?

Here at Top Ten USA, we know that the term “third party maintenance” may sound a bit foreign or seem a little complex to those who aren’t familiar with the concept. So allow us to dispel a little of the complexity and give you a quick rundown of exactly what it is and what it can do for you.

Third party maintenance (TPM), is a service provided to a customer by a company that is not the the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). This is the equivalent of owning a vehicle, but not taking it to the dealership for service, but rather taking it to a local mechanic. TPM applies to both hardware and software in the IT industry, but today we will be focusing on the hardware aspect.

Some of the primary advantages, or pros, of using TPM are as follows:

- Contract Consolidation: OEM’s will often only cover equipment that they are the manufacturer of. With TPM, many providers will cover equipment from multiple OEM’s, so you don’t have to hold maintenance agreements with multiple providers to ensure coverage for all of your equipment. Also, many providers offer the ability to co-term equipment, so you have one single effective start and end date for all of your equipment.

- Extended Hardware ROI: TPM providers will typically still cover equipment that the OEM deems is end of life. When an OEM puts something EOL, it means that they will no longer be supporting it at all. In the TPM market, most equipment is usually qualified for coverage as long as there is still a resource for parts to fix that equipment. By putting this equipment under coverage, we can extend the useful life of your hardware well beyond the OEM’s end of life date, effectively giving you a much higher ROI on your capital hardware investment.

- Discounted Cost: typically the cost of TPM can be as much as 60% or more lower than the cost of maintenance through the OEM

All in all, there are many good reasons to use a TPM provider for your hardware equipment coverage. However, along with that are a couple of challenges, or cons, that you should be aware of as well. They primarily consist of the following:

- Firmware/Updates: some OEMs make firmware/updates freely available for download on their website or through a free utility of some kind. Others do not. And others will have firmware/updates available for free for a select few machines but not others. Because of this, generally a TPM provider will encourage you to engage the OEM to help you get an update if you should want/need one, which may incur an additional cost.

- Licensing: there are occasions where a machine must be completely replaced due to a hardware failure. However, that machine had some form of licensing against it. As with firmware/updates, some OEMs will provide a tool of some kind to transfer or look up licensing against a specific machine. Others will not. In circumstances like these, sometimes an OEM may need to get involved to assist and they may charge money to do so.

As with all business decisions, there are both pros and cons to be weighed during the process. In our experience, due to the large value adds with contract consolidation including co-terming equipment, along with extending your hardware ROI, TPM is the most intelligent business decision when choosing how to maintain your hardware.

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