Don’t Ignore Your Clients’ Need for Legacy IT Infrastructure Support

By Chris Miller, Top Gun

As an IT solution provider, you’re likely very focused on selling subscription-based cloud, security and “Managed Everything” services; however, are you overlooking opportunities to boost revenue and add essential value within your clients’ physical data center? Your clients are still spending money to maintain their existing physical environments. Why not spend it with you?

Reducing risk and total cost of ownership (TCO) within the data center remains a top priority with your clients. Especially now, with the marketplace disruptions caused by the chip shortage (back-ordered systems) and inflation (impacts to CapEx and OpEx). Retaining legacy IT servers, storage and network hardware has been a “go-to” strategy for most IT decision-makers nearly every time there is a period of economic uncertainty. Wisely, doing so saves jobs.

Offering quality and cost-effective services to address their on-premises, mission critical hardware as your clients invest in their “future state” is achievable by partnering with a reputable independent support provider. Identifying your clients’ needs for hardware maintenance on their legacy servers, storage and networking equipment will not only create a new conversation but will also reveal opportunities to guide your clients’ physical (and virtual) IT asset lifecycle management plan. Often, essential enablement services such as certified IT asset disposition, swing gear, hardware rentals, wireless surveys and IT equipment relocation may feel tactical in your conversation, but are critical to your clients’ everyday operations. These classic lifecycle services are essential and you’ll enjoy the rather short sales cycle.

If your data center clients aren’t spending money with you on their legacy IT equipment, they’re spending it with somebody else.

Most solution providers tend to focus on a core list of technologies, and understandably so. Attempting to be a “jack-of-all-trades” can quickly dilute internal expertise and differentiation. However, too narrow of a solutions portfolio can limit opportunities within client accounts that run a highly diverse infrastructure. By partnering with a trusted independent multi-vendor data center services provider, you will set yourself apart from your competition – by offering more innovative and complete, service and support solutions. For example, most solution integrators are highly proficient in mid-range platform migrations, but rarely offer focused expertise on IBM mainframe environments. Similarly, many providers may have strong Cisco expertise, but lack ability to capture services for a client’s Juniper infrastructure. By partnering with an expert multi-OEM support provider, solution providers can create value on platforms that are outside of their core expertise and be poised to help clients transition to their core offerings when the client is ready and able to refresh a legacy technology.

It’s important to note that not all independent support providers are alike. Many are specialized on certain technology platforms and do not have the internal expertise to handle complex systems. Many are well-suited for your clients’ commodity systems, such as Windows/Linux-based Dell and HPE servers, but depend on outside firms or back-line providers to handle complex storage and/or networking hardware. As you consider a partnership, don’t be dazzled by your partner’s contract management portals or their claims that their pricing is better, or that they are the biggest brand.

Remember, all it takes is one missed SLA and your own reputation will be on the line!

Understanding and trusting your partner’s capabilities is crucial and selecting an independent support partner purely based on price can lead to disastrous outcomes for you and your company’s brand. In partner vetting, it’s best to focus on “Value,” first – quantifying client savings should be a distant second focus.

In the global market, only a handful of independent maintenance providers specialize in complex and mission critical systems such as Dell EMC, Hitachi and NetApp storage or IBM Z mainframe environments. Those that are truly committed to data center stability/resilience will employ their own L3 engineers and invest heavily in spare parts, lab systems and infrastructure tools. Given the high expectations of data center clients and the criticality of their environments, leading support providers will exercise a “zero risk” policy in every contract they support – for which, trust is earned quickly – as will praise and client retention.

Also, as you vet a potential support provider, look for and avoid those that are too quick to focus on pricing before understanding your client’s requirements. Such providers are quite likely to only be able to provide what your clients will perceive as “transactional sellers (vs. ‘solution providers’).” Instead, you can easily spot those with a collaborative and consultative approach by the questions they ask and information they’re seeking to help both you and your clients. It will be obvious their approach is to design solutions that fit your clients’ needs precisely. In turn, this allows you to differentiate your support solution, control more footprint and gain greater visibility into your clients’ existing global technology estate. Economically speaking, you will be able to reduce infrastructure TCO and OpEx costs for your client, allowing them to redirect those funds to your strategic projects.

As a dedicated Partnership Development Manager, I welcome hearing from potential business partners that seek to increase value to their clients and recognize how Top Gun third-party maintenance and IT support services can be used as a stFrategic enabler for their projects. I’ve walked in your shoes and spent many years in direct sales and system integration sales. I know first-hand that “trust” is a huge factor when choosing your partner. I chose Top Gun because we fervently protect each partner’s interests, we never compete with or displace our partner’s services and, most importantly, we work hard to protect each partner’s brand and hard-earned client relationships. You’ve worked hard to become your client’s trusted advisor. We get it, and we stand behind our partners and keep you in the driver’s seat. Proven. Trusted. Reliable.SM

Blog Author Details

Chris Miller

Partner Development Manager

Top Gun

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