IT Infrastructure – Hardware and Software Maintenance Considerations

There are several considerations when evaluating maintenance options for your IT infrastructure.  When you order new servers they generally include a three, four or five-year hardware and software warranty/maintenance agreement.  This is standard fare.  However, if you don’t plan to refresh your hardware to the next generation when the warranty/maintenance comes up for expiration then you will have to make some maintenance decisions.

Upgrading to the latest generation of hardware is always a great choice because you will not have to worry about expiring maintenance contracts.  However, there are often reasons that could delay, impede or prevent you from upgrading.  Some of these issues are you might be considering leaving the platform, you might have applications software roadblocks, you might be considering moving to the cloud, have long depreciation schedules or other financial reasons etc.

Regardless if you can’t or don’t choose to refresh your hardware then you will need to review your maintenance options.


Let’s first look at hardware maintenance (HWMA).  First and foremost you should always have a HWMA agreement either with the manufacturer (OEM) or a third party maintenance provider (TPM).  I’ve seen situations where the choice was made not to have any maintenance and if the machine goes down there is a scramble for support with vendors who are not familiar with your infrastructure.  This consumes considerable time, resources and cost.  Have you considered what your cost for down time is?

So if you will be keeping your hardware for while then you will need to consider whether to continue HWMA with the OEM or a TPM.   A key consideration is to determine if the OEM will continue to supply updates such as firmware.   If firmware updates are still being offered then OEM maintenance is recommended.  However over time updates will cease and OEM maintenance prices will continue to increase.  This is when the pendulum swings to TPM where you can continue to get HWMA at a substantial cost savings as compared to the OEM.  If you do choose to take advantage of TPM then it’s recommended that you update your hardware to the latest or final versions of firmware while the OEM HWMA is still in effect.

Software maintenance (SWMA) has similar considerations. Like HWMA it’s recommended that you keep SWMA in place as long as there are new Operating System (OS) levels or updates still available from the OEM. Once again over time OS levels and updates will no longer be available and then you will have to decide if SWMA is worth keeping or not. Once again like HWMA if you choose to let SWMA expire, it’s recommended that you upgrade to the latest or final OS and PTF levels while the OEM SWMA is still in effect.  In the IBM i world it’s also recommended that you keep SWMA in place so that you can transfer OS licenses without having to repurchase them again if you refresh your hardware to a new machine.

It’s worth noting that OS levels are generally supported over a long period of time because they can span multiple generations of hardware.  So in many cases the recommendation is to purchase TPM for hardware and keep SWMA with the OEM.


Clearly, there are a multitude of factors to consider when making decisions on renewing HWMA and SWMA.

This is where iTech can provide guidance. Our Account Managers are experts in the IBM Power Systems i market. We understand the current and older generations of hardware and the OS levels across these generations of hardware. We can offer both OEM and TPM hardware maintenance solutions. We also provide services to update your firmware, OS levels, and PTF’s to keep your infrastructure at the most current levels. We can suggest upgrade paths to refresh your infrastructure either on-premise or in the Cloud.  Plus we can manage your entire environment with our Managed Service team.

In short, we have all the bases covered to offer optimal and secure solutions based on your current and future infrastructure requirements.

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