Managing IT hardware in the mobile age

Since the first computer was built in 1946, chips and devices have continued to get smaller. Just 20 years ago, hard drives were big and heavy, ranging from 400 to 1000 megabytes in size. Now 500 gigabytes (500,000 megabytes) is regarded as low end, and can be picked up at a fraction of the cost of the smallest hard-drive available 20 years ago.

However, as technology becomes more powerful and capacity grows, we’re seeing a far greater use of virtualisation and cloud technology, which by nature require less on-premise hardware to function.

In the first quarter of 2015, IBM, traditionally one of the most successful hardware manufacturers, saw cloud technology bring in more than double the revenue of hardware, with sales down by 23 per cent. Cloud technology, externally hosted data centres, and generally smaller more reliable technology has reduced demand for the more traditional method of hardware maintenance and support in the office. Instead organisations are being supported by external, high performance data centres.

It is these data centres where hardware needs regular care and attention, producing a new feature rich and resilient environment for IT service providers to operate in. Inventory-as-a-service solutions are arguably the most cost effective and efficient way to maintain both this type of technology and the repositioned on-premise requirements of today’s business world.

In most cases organisations have less interest than ever on the brand name of the hardware or where the data centre is located – instead they are relying on the service provider to deliver always-on, value-add services. This means the conventional model service providers have used, when every company had an internal data centre consisting of banks of server, storage and networking hardware and employing third party maintainers to provide full support, is evolving. With less on-premise data centres, providing maintenance is actually easier, less feet are needed on the ground, and more remote technical assistance can be provided. As a result, more service providers are choosing to service their customers themselves through a more up-to-date support model.

Remote access technology can be a significant aid for those providing support and the businesses receiving it. The availability of remote support means simple network fault resolutions can be made with minimal outlay, without having to send out an engineer. Equally, as we become more dependent on technology, downtime can significantly be reduced as an experienced remote engineer can be working on getting something fixed within seconds of it going wrong.

However, the best inventory-as-a-service partners, are going one step further, helping organisations to self-resolution on faults. Simple tasks such as swapping a part out for a replacement can be completed by a member of staff with some basic training, removing the need to call out an engineer every time something goes wrong. The leading inventory-as-a-service partners are therefore providing training to service providers and their customers’ businesses, enabling each to replace parts themselves with experienced technical experts on-hand at the end of a phone should more complex issues arise. As a result, downtime is dramatically reduced and the traditional 4hr fix SLA is now being replaced by impressive two hour SLAs, 24x7x365.

In today’s business environment, maximising uptime is business critical, across almost all industries. Most businesses operations are heavily reliant on the internet, and more often mobile technology, making the consequences of a crash even more threatening. On the positive side though, as technology becomes more mobile, we’re also finding it to be more reliable, requiring less need for the more traditional ‘feet on the street’ maintenance contract.

In the data centre for example, solid-state-disks contain no moving parts, lasting much longer than traditional hard-drives, so installing these can dramatically reduce maintenance costs. Despite this however, too many are still using out of date hardware, or failing to regularly upgrade due to lack of investment or systems knowledge. According to our research, just 27 per cent of service providers work to deliver a steady stream of new technology to their customers. Keeping up with technology advancements is a simple way to reduce downtime, which is all the more critical as reliance on technology that is ‘always-on’ grows.

This changing environment highlights demand for Inventory-as-a-service. Unlike traditional maintenance support, inventory-as-a-service works to up-skill engineering staff alongside providing responsive on-site hardware support as and when it is needed, resulting in better value for end user businesses and better margins for service providers. This approach is especially relevant, as organisations become more cloud and mobile based, with less on-site IT hardware that would previously demand expensive maintenance contracts to keep online.

Maintenance support from a quality inventory-as-a-service partner will ensure your staff are fully trained to complete simpler tasks with the knowledge that there is a back office technical support function that can be accessed 24/7/365 for more complex issues.

This responsive and more efficient approach ensures parts can be delivered to the right place in less than two hours 24x7x365, maximising the use of remote technology, ensuring service providers’ engineers are only sent out for more complex repairs, which in turn reduces the cost of the service and increases network availability for the end user customer.

Richard Eglon, Marketing Director at Agilitas