What is Third-Party Maintenance (TPM)?

Don’t waste budget money – 5 benefits of considering hybrid support and third-party maintenance

Third-party maintenance (TPM) is a subject matter that is garnering a great deal of attention in today’s climate of discovering creative ways to extend technology budgets. In short, third-party maintenance is a hardware support solution provided by vendors independent of the OEM. TPM offerings are essential in a hybrid support model – which entails using a mix of OEM support, TPM and sparing strategies where each is appropriate.


A well-designed hybrid support strategy allows you to choose which options provide the best coverage for your technology infrastructure, while making the most of your OPEX budget.

At CXtec, we’re huge advocates of the hybrid support model. Recently, we were included in Gartner’s TPM competitive analysis report.

Gartner’s insight into the TPM competitive environment

CXtec was one of 13 support providers selected for inclusion by Gartner in its March 2016 research report entitled “Competitive Landscape: Leveraging Third-Party Maintenance Providers for Data Center and Network Maintenance Cost Optimization, North America [ID G00294372].” This document identifies the key attributes for a TPM provider to be successful in three to five years. Here are what we deem the top five benefits of considering TPM and hybrid support strategies:

1. Huge cost savings with third-party maintenance

Many TPM programs cost as much as 50-60% less than traditional OEM support offerings. This point is significant for a number of reasons. Saving budget money is always a priority, but it’s imperative to be selective in the areas where you look to save. The Gartner report finds that:

“Hardware maintenance is increasingly being considered as a ‘nonstrategic IT’ spending and procurement, with the result being that IT professionals are seeking low-cost alternatives to expensive OEM contracts and pricing.”

Maintenance may be considered a “nonstrategic” spend, but that doesn’t mean it can’t become a smart way to maximize value in your investment. Using a reliable support program that costs up to 50-60% less than what you’d pay for OEM maintenance allows you to extend your budget to other areas where your business may need it. That’s a smart strategy that will take your organization further than it has been before. Just check out this case study to learn how using a quality hybrid support solution can make life easier for you and your budget.

Definition of Third-Party Maintenance: TPM programs are hardware support solutions provided by vendors independent of the OEM. TPM offerings are essential in a hybrid support model – which entails using a mix of OEM support, TPM and sparing strategies where each is appropriate.

2. Third-party maintenance provides flexible, customized support

One of the drawbacks to OEM support is that it’s hard to get individual attention. Let’s face it – sometimes you’re just one of many to the OEM. How can you really get prioritized service in a situation like that? One of the findings of the Gartner report states:

“Some enterprises consider the flexibility and customized support from TPMs as an advantage.”

The advantage of working with a TPM provider is that you get individualized attention and a model that is customized to your needs. With a TPM strategy you can enjoy the flexibility of month-to-month contracts and the ability to terminate your contracts without penalty. These are services you won’t get from the OEM.

Plus, with a TPM provider’s quicker attention to your needs you can accelerate the mean time to repairing your issues. Faster problem resolution and less time waiting on-hold for a representative to help increases productivity for you and your team. With a TPM provider’s quick attention to your needs you can accelerate the time spent repairing your issues.

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3. Maintain your infrastructure – upgrade at your pace

The term “asset sweating,” while sounding like some sort of exercise regimen for your technology, actually means to maintain your investment longer than an OEM cycle suggests you should. So sweating your assets means you hold onto them after they have been deemed end-of-sale (EOS) and end-of-life (EOL) by the OEM.

Extending the useful life of your technology is a wise strategy. First you will reduce your capital expenditures significantly. Then if you factor in a TPM program into your solution, you greatly reduce your operational expenses as well. The Gartner report states:

“Customers will often switch to TPMs when the original warranty runs out, rather than renew the OEM support contract, due to significant increases in OEM postwarranty pricing.”

If your equipment is EOS or EOL, it’s actually likely that the OEM support you attach to it costs more than the value of the hardware it’s supporting. Switching to a TPM solution allows you to maintain your current technology infrastructure at a price that that is most effective for your budget. This allows you to upgrade your technology investments at a pace that makes the most sense for your business needs – instead of having the OEM dictate your strategy.

4. Right-size your solution with third-party maintenance

A hybrid approach suggests looking at all your options and deciding what’s best for your unique needs. No two technology infrastructures are the same, just as no two businesses are identical, so there can never be a “one-size-fits-all” support solution. The Gartner report states:

“Customers will continue to leverage OEM maintenance and TPM maintenance together in a hybrid solution.”

The OEM support model makes sense for mission-critical equipment at the core of your network that is still early in its product lifecycle. The TPM strategy makes sense for equipment at the edge of your network that may be nearing its EOS/EOL dates. But it’s important to keep in mind that these aren’t the only options available.

5. Incorporate a spares program

Incorporating a spares model is another way to heighten peace of mind. What could be better than having hot, swappable spares ready on-site at a moment’s notice? If you find a reliable vendor of used networking hardware then spares become an economically viable option.

The hybrid support approach is about looking at your individual circumstances and finding the right fit for your technology. A mix of OEM, TPM, and spares could be the most cost-effective solution for your organization.

Third-party maintenance and hybrid support are here to stay

Third-party maintenance can be a smart alternative to just relying on OEM support. Having options at your disposal enables a stronger position for you as you choose your technology platforms. You can decide how your technology investments can best facilitate your needs and drive your business to new heights.

And as you delve into hybrid support, you become empowered to build a solution that best fits your unique circumstances. Keep in mind, though, it is imperative to do your due diligence when selecting a partner for your maintenance. It’s easy for vendors to say they will be there to back your investment, but will they? You need to truly know your technology partner so that you can rely on their stability to provide the support you need.

The Gartner report is a great place to start your research. If you’re a client, you can find the paper available for download here.


To learn more about the definition of third-party maintenance and hybrid support, watch our informative podcast Third-Party Maintenance and the Value of a Hybrid Support Solution.

You can also view chapters of the podcast at the links below:

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Interested in delving even further into the concepts of hybrid support and TPM? Download your free guide, The Value of a Hybrid Support Strategy, here.

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Learn more about how CXtec can help you build a hybrid support solution here.

Find out about CXtec's third-party maintenance offering here.