What is Third-Party Maintenance in the Data Center?

Dig into what third-party maintenance (TPM) is, its impact on equipment life cycle, IT budget and customer service, and how it compares to OEM maintenance.

oem storage support

What is Third-Party Maintenance in the Data Center?

Third-party maintenance (TPM) is hardware support for server, storage and network equipment. TPM is an alternative to traditional Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) warranty and post-warranty support. For example, you would enlist a TPM provider to support your IBM, Dell EMC, HPE or Cisco equipment in your data center in place of OEM service.

To better understand what third-party maintenance is or isn’t, let’s start with a look at OEM maintenance. OEM maintenance is the traditional default for support in most data centers, however, the TPM solution continues to grow in popularity.


Thinking about third-party maintenance? Use this checklist to find the right provider for your data center

The basics of maintenance for OEMs like Dell EMC, HPE, IBM, Cisco, NetApp and other major suppliers are:

  • Initial 1-to-3-year service warranty: Option to purchase extended post-warranty support
  • SLAs: 24/7, Same Business Day and Next Business Day
  • Engineers: OEM-certified, TPM-certified and variable workforce
  • All parts included in maintenance contract
  • Access to software updates and upgrades (may include additional charges for upgrades)

The Timing Behind a Hardware Refresh

The life cycle of your equipment, as defined by an OEM, is a key factor in evaluating your maintenance strategy. For instance, your EMC storage array is meeting business demands and experiencing no performance issues. From your point of view, there’s no urgent business or IT need to replace or upgrade it.

However, the OEM is sharply raising your post-warranty support costs before eventually issuing an End-of-Life or End-of-Service-Life announcement. So now you’re considering a hardware refresh, not based on performance or feature needs, but to avoid climbing maintenance costs or because the OEM no longer offers hardware support.

The OEM support structure reflects a pro-hardware refresh bias with a push to move new equipment from the assembly line into the data center.

In direct contrast, third-party maintenance can unlock your hardware from support limitations to boost equipment longevity.

Warranty and Post-Warranty Support

for the typical equipment life cycle

TPM extends the working life of your EMC storage array, with support and parts, to maximize your initial investment. You can opt to keep your hardworking storage library for months or years without paying premium rates or risking downtime.


Sprint or Marathon? Going the Distance with Data Center Maintenance

Within the third-party maintenance market, the scope, locations and offerings vary. Let’s look at the basics offered by many leading TPM providers:

  • Post-warranty support timeframes can vary from 3, 6, 12, 24 months and beyond

  • SLAs: 24/7, Same Business Day and Next Business Day

  • One maintenance agreement for multi-vendor hardware support with flexible terms

  • Engineers: OEM-certified, TPM-certified and variable workforce

  • All parts included in maintenance contract

  • Access to software updates and upgrades – subject to OEM terms and determined on a case-by-case basis

What advantages does third-party maintenance offer?

In addition to reducing your maintenance spend, you also have greater control of your equipment life cycle and thus the timing and budget of your next hardware refresh. The flexibility in coverage options allows you to target your production and non-production equipment for coverage accordingly. With the emphasis on service delivery that many TPM providers promise, your customer service experience is not bogged down with automated or international callcenters, overburdened engineers or parts delays. You can experience greater uptime and more customized perks for your data center. And you can make the switch to a trusted third-party maintenance provider with confidence.

OEM Maintenance or Third-Party Maintenance?


Review how each support option impacts the needs and performance of your data center.


Assess the support needs of your server, storage and network equipment, then factor in downtime costs, service quality and business objectives.



Talk to both your OEM and TPM representatives to gather additional details and quotes before deciding on your next maintenance solution.

Additional Resources

EOL and EOSL Tip Sheet
OEM maintenance vs TPM maintenance
Virtualization Made Simple