Spoiler alert: hourly rate isn’t on the list!
If you’ve ever experienced the nightmare that comes with unplanned downtime in your data center, you know how important it is to properly service and maintain your critical digital infrastructure, including the uninterruptable power supply (UPS) units and precision cooling units that work together to ensure your business is always online.
Given that downtime can cost a business thousands of dollars every single minute, investing in professional data center service providers to prevent such catastrophes usually isn’t a hard sell. Still, the first question many decisionmakers ask when it comes to service is, “How much is this going to cost?”
While pricing is important, it’s definitely not the only factor to weigh when deciding whom to trust with maintaining some of the most important equipment in your data center. In fact, it’s not even in our top five. Here are several key considerations that trump hourly rate and that will ultimately contribute to lower total costs for your business in the long run:
- How fast can the data center service provider respond to your call? Remember, downtime costs thousands of dollars every single minute. In an emergency, you need a service provider who can be at your facility yesterday, thank you very much. It’s important to choose a provider who is in reasonable proximity to your facility and that has a guaranteed response time within the service area. Since you never know when disaster will strike, 24/7 emergency is obviously a must. You may also want to check into priority scheduling policies to get a sense of how your emergency will be handled if and when you need a skilled set of hands on the scene fast.
- What type of parts are used and how available are they? Whether it’s emergency service or a routine data center preventive maintenance, the right parts make a difference in how your equipment functions. Those parts need to be immediately available, especially in emergency situations where time is literally money. Look for a provider that maintains a large inventory of original, never refurbished parts. And make sure the provider has an impressive on-time parts delivery record (90% or more is preferable). This will factor into the mean time to repair (MTTR), which you obviously want to be as low as possible so you can get back up and running sooner rather than later. Depending on the age of your IT infrastructure equipment, you also want to check into the availability of obsolete and/or OEM-discontinued parts.
- Will firmware upgrades be provided for newer equipment? For newer, digitally-designed and controlled systems, access to the OEM’s firmware upgrades is a must. Firmware updates should be performed during preventive maintenance visits to ensure the equipment is always up-to-date and properly maintained. While some third parties may offer their own firmware, the only way to optimize equipment performance is with proprietary upgrades from the OEM.
- What is the training protocol? Every service event introduces the possibility of service-related human error. It goes without saying that the better trained a data center service provider is on your equipment, the less likely these errors will occur. Find out if there is a training and/or continuous education requirement for service technicians and ask to see a copy of current training credentials and certifications. You should also check to see if the provider is specifically trained to service your brand of equipment. Ideally, you want a provider that has ongoing access to the latest information about the equipment you use including access to the OEM design engineers, engineering schematics, and specifications.
- What is the service provider’s safety policy and safety record? In addition to equipment-specific training, service providers should have safety training in order to work around electrical equipment. Find out if the provider has a formal safety program in place. A provider that maintains an ongoing safety training and certification program, has a good safety track record, and has earned a safety award or two from a reputable industry organization, can be trusted to work around your sensitive and critical equipment.
Get the Most for Your Data Center Service Contract
Given the crucial nature of your digital infrastructure and the role it plays in keeping your business operational, efficient, and profitable, the choice of a service provider is not one to be taken lightly. When you find a provider who can check all these boxes, you can feel confident that the equipment you rely upon to keep your business running is in the best possible hands and that the services you purchase will deliver lasting value for your business.