BIG BUSINESSES and data center operators are familiar with third-party maintenance (TPM), an alternative to direct support from hardware makers that’s usually cheaper and often available after manufacturer warranties have expired. A potentially rich source of revenue, it’s usually provided by large companies directly to end users. Now, however, an emerging channel-friendly version of TPM called alternative OEM maintenance (AOM) is giving channel pros a chance to cash in on so-called “technology lifecycle management” (TLM) too.
"TPM and AOM are two sides of the same coin," says Chad Jones, senior director of North American partner development for Park Place Technologies, a large TPM player now offering AOM as well. "It's a good rebrand for the industry, because 'third party' still has an old feel, and AOM more accurately represents the process."
The difference, though, is that SMBs can now get AOM through their MSP. "When customers hear about it at first, they think it's TPM," says Tim Kubiak, CEO of ZPI, a specialist in AOM for the midmarket that provides complete coverage of equipment and will repair or replace items as needed.
ZPI has its own Tier 3 engineers, offers 24/7 support, and often uses partner MSPs when a truck roll is required. However, says Kubiak, "90% of tickets are self-inflicted problems, not maintenance problems."
One hundred percent channel driven, ZPI provides SKUs for maintenance through distributors like TD SYNNEX, Channel Solutions, and others, making it easy for MSPs to find them and get started. "MSPs can set up a portal, upload their asset list telling us what they have, and click to see prices," says Kubiak. They can customize the portal their customers use, directly support them by changing the lifecycle guidelines from the vendors, and invoice for the service. "It's like taking your Honda to your local auto shop rather than back to the dealer," explains Kubiak. "We usually save our customers 40-60%, depending on the age of the equipment."
Channel pros benefit too. MSP partners usually "get 20 to 30 [margin] points on AOM contracts," says Jones, who adds that extremely competitive bids or government contracts may be leaner.
Like ZPI, Park Place relies on MSP partners for truck rolls in many cases, and takes care of repairs and replacements with factory-trained engineers. They also defer to partners to provide hardware to customers. AOM gives customers flexibility with refresh rates too, Jones notes, because “we are not beholden to OEMs and their lifecycle rules," Jones says.
AOM is shaping up as a win-win. "End users save money and get good service," says Kubiak, "and MSPs can provide technology lifecycle management for their clients."