How to Bypass Costly Infrastructure Technical Support Contracts

Feeling overwhelmed by expensive hardware and software support contracts? There is an alternative option thanks to advancements in IT orchestration and automation.

Andrew Froehlich, President & Lead Network Architect, West Gate Networks

June 7, 2023

3 Min Read
Business ideas implemented to reduce expenses and improved profit.
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Given these uncertain economic times, business leaders are starting to take a closer look at existing infrastructure support contracts to assess whether they truly provide value for the money. An alternative option for some is to replace vendor-specific technical support with emerging options that can achieve the same infrastructure uptime and optimization benefits at a lower price point. The use of orchestration and automation platforms is one option that businesses can investigate to help lessen the need for exorbitant, full-service maintenance and technical support contracts.

Support Costs are Growing

Most organizations are under the impression that they need IT technical support contracts to ensure IT infrastructures are continuously available and optimized. This has been the ubiquitous option for most businesses for decades. The problem, however, is that vendor support contracts that give businesses access to rapid hardware replacements and advanced technical support are becoming too expensive to ignore. In many cases, businesses pay up to two times their infrastructure hardware investment when you factor in the cost of premium hardware/software support contracts over a five-year lifespan.

Growing infrastructure complexities and a lack of sufficient in-house technical skills put businesses in a tough position. On one hand, their IT budgets are failing to keep pace with exceeding infrastructure support contract costs. On the other hand, they feel they can’t eliminate or reduce support fees on mission-critical infrastructure components.

What’s Changing the Infrastructure Support Dynamic?

For those organizations stuck in the endless cycle of paying for top-tier support that helps to shrink the risk of massive downtimes -- due to hardware, software, and misconfiguration issues -- alternative options are available. Of course, this depends on several factors including the size of the infrastructure, its complexity, and the business’s willingness to make changes to the infrastructure ecosystem.

One example of a cost reduction effort that is growing in popularity can be gained with modern orchestration and automation tools in lieu of perpetually paying vendors for technical support services. Instead of purchasing advanced vendor support to protect against the risk of hardware, software, and human configuration error, businesses can instead opt to purchase an orchestration/automation platform that assists with the design, implementation, and configuration of said infrastructure equipment and associated software. The business could then opt to simply purchase cold spares to lessen the 1-3% risk of a hardware failure while relying on the orchestration platform to automate configuration and optimization tasks.

Orchestration platforms have become sophisticated enough to place guardrails on what can or cannot be configured while continuously monitoring and making changes to infrastructure configurations that optimize performance. Thus, not only does this option significantly lessen the risk of a human-caused configuration error, but it also reduces both the headcount and skillset needed to build and manage the equipment throughout its lifespan. This method has been shown to decrease infrastructure costs with relatively little impact on uptime.

Also, keep in mind that IT infrastructure equipment is growing increasingly commoditized and architectures are homologized when IT architects adhere to best practice standards. Doing so presents businesses with far greater flexibility when choosing an infrastructure vendor that offers the best price based on business needs. Vendor lock-in is largely becoming a thing of the past as most enterprise-grade infrastructure systems can be easily interchanged while being centrally managed through a standards-based, multi-vendor orchestration platform.

What is the Potential for Cost Savings?

Of course, the potential for cost savings to combat the unreasonable rise in IT infrastructure support contracts will vary depending on business goals and infrastructure cost-saving opportunities. That said, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that a savings of 10-20% can be achieved. This is especially true when you factor in the notion that IT resources can be reallocated away from ITOps and onto other tasks that can help businesses flourish.

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About the Author(s)

Andrew Froehlich

President & Lead Network Architect, West Gate Networks

Andrew has well over a decade of enterprise networking under his belt through his consulting practice, which specializes in enterprise network architectures and datacenter build-outs and prior experience at organizations such as State Farm Insurance, United Airlines and the University of Chicago Medical Center. Having lived and worked in South East Asia for nearly three years, Andrew possesses a unique international business and technology perspective. When he's not consulting, Andrew enjoys writing technical blogs and is the author of two Cisco certification study guides published by Sybex.

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