The software asset manager is under constant pressure to reduce costs without exposing the company to a licensing shortfall, or insufficient support and maintenance coverage in the event of a problem. Unsurprisingly, the low headline costs of third party IBM support seems like a golden opportunity to fulfil both these obligations.
But it is these low costs that often give SAMs pause for thought, pushing them back into the arms of their grateful IBM account manager. After all, logic dictates that lower costs entail a lower standard of service, that third party maintenance providers are making compromises somewhere to reduce operating costs, creating savings that can then be passed on to the customer.
It is this very fear of compromise in quality of support that IBM use to keep corporate clients trapped in their maintenance contract regime.
So what are the compromises?
There are undeniable differences between the official IBM software support, and that received from a third party. But whether these are compromises or not is down to your own interpretation.
Reduced access to patches and updates
Moving to a third-party IBM software support provider, you immediately lose all entitlement to software updates. Any future enhancements IBM makes to the software you own will not be available to you.
But this isn’t as terrifying as it sounds. First, your business is entitled to security patches released for the applications used. Second, most businesses don’t even consider third-party maintenance services until IBM withdraws support for the version they use.
So it stands to reason that there probably won’t be any product updates forthcoming anyway. For many CTOs the opportunity to not update software is actually a welcome benefit, allowing them to maintain the stability of their systems indefinitely.
Fewer product support specialists
When it comes to raw headcount, there isn’t a single third-party support provider who can compete with IBM. But despite all this manpower, many customers feel that they are forced to wait too long to receive an adequate response to their requests for support – that their annual maintenance fee is simply a way for IBM to maintain their income year on year (it is).
But the reality is that third-party support providers don’t need as many engineers. With fewer customers to support, they can provide an equivalent or better level of service despite having less consultants on the staff.
The smaller customer base of the third-party maintenance provider means that each engineer is more intimately acquainted with each environment they support. This familiarity is incredibly valuable for the customer – when requesting support for instance, there is no need to go over most of the basic low-level questions about your environment for instance. And because they know their way around your infrastructure, the engineer should be able to identify and resolve problems more quickly.
A damaged relationship with IBM
Your account manager may make some not-so-veiled threats in their efforts to push you towards a renewal of your maintenance contract – particularly about the effect on the relationship between your business and IBM. But there is little choice to be had – you either sign a new contract and agree to IBM’s upgrade demands, or you don’t.
In reality, the use of a third-party IBM software support provider is of little consequence to the relationship moving forward – especially if you have other applications that are still under OEM maintenance. Instead, you reclaim control of your IT infrastructure – and the vendor relationship.
Lower service levels
Without the financial clout of IBM, third party maintenance providers simply cannot compete with Big Blue. But the reality is that many businesses feel that they don’t get the level of service they pay for from vendors anyway.
With the bar set so low, it is no surprise that those businesses who do choose third-party IBM support benefit from an increased level of service. Smaller providers know that they must deliver on their promises, and so they go all out to resolve issues quickly and effectively to their customers’ satisfaction. Which is why they can outperform IBM for less money, and with fewer resources.
To learn more about third-party IBM support, and how Origina can beat your current service, please get in touch.