Replacing an OEM’s IT hardware support contract is a wise and prudent business decision. Make sure you know the facts that ensure a smooth transition. Here’s how.

The wisdom of employing Third Party Maintainers (TPMs) to support your IT hardware is indisputable. TPMs are easy to do business with. They will customize their support options around YOUR business needs (unlike the “cookie-cutter”) OEM service options). They will extend the life of your IT hardware assets (rather than push you to buy replacement hardware). TPMs provide multi-vendor support (most OEMs support only their own products). And the financial incentives and high quality of work speak for themselves.

When you actually leave the OEM for a high quality TPM, the OEM will fight back with FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) about your decision. Arm yourself with the facts that support your business decision.

  1. You may legally download all software and firmware patches available from your active support contract into a repository for future use. In Judge Tigar’s 2019 summary judgment against Oracle, he writes “If a customer has an active support contract when it downloads a patch, the customer has the right to install the patch at a later time, even if the server on which the patch is installed is no longer covered by a[n] [OEM] support contract.”. See Note 1.
  2. Patches which were publicly available at any point in time may be installed without an OEM service contract in place. See Note 2. Most OEMs have significant quantities of patches freely available, and even the patches for entire product families may be accessed and used without the need of a service contract. All OEMs have at least some publicly available (free) patches.
  3. Your TPM agents may rightfully access OEM IP based upon your rights to use it, but only for you. For instance, you may chose a TPM to perform hardware service for your products that are still under OEM warranty. In such cases, the TPM may access the firmware updates (patches) for you to use on those products. Or, you may otherwise use agents to perform your hardware and software maintenance post warranty. Your agents may access, download, store and apply any patch for which you have current rights to use or for any patch that is, or was, publicly available.
  4. Only the OEM can reset lost/forgotten service module passwords. Mind your passwords! Some hardware have maintenance level passwords that are needed to perform remedial hardware maintenance, configuration changes or upgrades and changes to the hardware. This also includes failed part replacements. This is especially true for hardware that uses a service module or service processor. Such passwords are often misplaced or forgotten until the need arises. Ensure that you know the passwords or have the OEM reset your passwords before your service contract expires. If you ask OEMs for a password reset after your contract expires, you may be subject to a time and materials fee and a delay of one or more days. Ask your TPM which products require maintenance level passwords if you are unsure.

Now that you’ve armed yourself against OEM FUD, you are ready to transition from OEM to TPM support. You may elect to retain some products on OEM service and migrate others to TPM service. Such a hybrid approach is very common. This contract flexibility is another hallmark of TPM’s superiority over OEM contracts.

Consolidate support for your multi-vendor hardware platforms onto a single, co-terminus contract. This TPM capability is a key differentiator and important business practice perfected by some TPMs. It provides a smooth transition of several expiring OEM contracts, better asset management and a significant cost savings.

Learn more on our next posting.

Note 1: Oracle v. HPE summary judgment, January 29, 2019. 3:15-cv-01393-JST. ECF 893-3-16

Note 2: Oracle v. HPE summary judgment, January 29, 2019. 3:16-cv-01393-JST. ECF 893-15-28.