Last weekend, I bought a laptop. Before I decided on which model I wanted, I visited a few vendors’ sites and looked at their warranties. Some came with a basic one-year warranty covering only manufacturer defects; others offered full support via phone day or night and physical sites where I could drop my laptop for repair. And I could pay extra for the extended three-year warranty. I quickly realized, the initial cost of the hardware was only one factor in my purchase. If I needed help down the line, I had to know that I’d have support then, too.
The same goes for our enterprise networks, the lifeblood of our businesses. Sure, you can buy a “good-enough” network that comes with a basic — or “lifetime” — warranty, but what happens when you need additional support?
If your network goes down, will you have the support you need to get back up and running quickly? Will that initial capital you saved buying less expensive equipment save you money in the long run? If your network is not back up and running quickly, what will that cost your business?
Most networks come with limited support and maintenance. With vendors such as HP, a warranty service call is limited to answering only the most basic questions. More often than not, they will ask questions along the lines of, “Have you tried rebooting your switch?” If that doesn’t work, the vendor simply ships a replacement. There’s no effort made to troubleshoot the problem. In fact, the majority of warranties do not include troubleshooting at all. Yet network and configuration issues account for 70% of support center calls where service is often provided on a first-come first-served basis, with no effort to prioritize calls. If you want more in-depth support you have to purchase that extended support contract – which is not free.
When it comes to network support and services all vendors are not created equal. Vendors such as Cisco realize that customers need more than basic support because the network is critical for business. Those vendors design next-generation networks with more robust warranties, and they also provide access to large, qualified support staff so issues get resolved quickly, the first time. In addition, we deliver smart services — software-enabled technical and professional services that proactively seek out, diagnose, and remediate issues before they even become problems. This can dramatically improve the uptime of networks as well as the user experience. And this will save a business money in the long run: less down time equals more productivity.
Those basic warranties don’t make up for the business cost of downtime. Companies lose an average of 3.6% of revenue per year to downtime, according to an Infonetics Research report “The Costs of Enterprise Downtime.” Unplanned downtime also damages the reputation of the business, a significant cost even if it is difficult to quantify. If a company makes that narrow TCO calculation of upfront discounts on products and maintenance, they are not looking at the total operating environment that they’re actually creating and overall TCO.
When you’re designing your network, look for vendors with software-enabled services that leverage robust intellectual capital built from years of supporting customers’ networks, as well as knowledge gained from multiple scenarios and customer environments where the vendor is deployed. These services provide actionable insights to help you proactively prevent problems and extract more value.
Remember, all service contracts and warranties are not created equal. You essentially get what you pay for. Unfortunately, you never realize how good a service contract is until you need it. Be prepared and look at the fine print.
Five myths down…two to go. Stay tuned for myth number six next week.
What are some of the “good enough” myths that you’ve been hearing in the industry?
Note: The seven myths are outlined in a recent white paper from Cisco: Debunking the Myth of the Good Enough Network.