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Network Hardware Maintenance or Spare and Repair?

It’s Thursday morning and you’ve just settled into your desk with a hot cup of coffee. You’re about to get started on a pressing project when a coworker sticks his head into your office to tell you that one of your switches has failed. All of a sudden you find yourself squarely in the middle of a crisis. You have to get the network back up and running as quickly as possible. What do you do?

Getting your network back online will depend on a number of factors: the size of your organization and your network, whether you have a maintenance program in force for your network, and whether you have a spare switch available on hand. For most organizations there are two main ways to handle a network failure. The first is to contract with a network maintenance company to manage your network hardware and handle failures for you. The second option is to have spare components on hand to swap out whenever a part of your network fails and then to have the failed component repaired. Below I look at the pros and cons of both methods to help you choose the best possible solution for your company:

Network Maintenance Plan Pros:

  • Failed network components are handled by the maintenance company.
  • You do not have to keep spares on hand.
  • Maintenance Company coordinates the shipment and installation of new network components.
  • You can focus on other business-related projects during the repair/installation process.

Server Maintenance Plan Cons:

  • Maintenance plans can be expensive depending on the level of service selected and the size of the network covered by the plan.
  • Typically, the best prices are available to the larger companies based on volume. Smaller companies are not likely to get the same discounts as larger organizations.
  • You might have to wait for awhile—which can translate into down time--if you don't pay the premium for immediate maintenance response times.

Network Spare and Repair Pros:

  • Keeping a spare on hand results in less down time when a network component fails.
  • Keeping spares on hand for key network components is cheaper than buying replacement parts.
  • Failed components can be repaired and turned into the new, on-hand spares.

Network Spare and Repair Cons:

  • You must buy spares for each of your key network components and keep them on hand.
  • Buying and maintaining spare network components is a significant investment and may be cost prohibitive.
  • Keeping spare parts on hand requires dedicated storage space at your company.
  • You must install the spares on your own.
  • If you don't have a spare for a failed part on hand, you will have to scramble to find someone to help you locate a part.
  • You need to maintain a positive relationship with a network hardware repair facility.
  • You must handle shipment of failed equipment to the repair company.

The Conclusion

The best solution for your organization is up to you, but for most companies, I would recommend a hybrid approach that includes quality network maintenance coverage and a series of spares for the components that are most likely to fail or need replacement. In the hybrid approach, you sign up for a maintenance program to handle the bulk of your network hardware issues, but you also keep key spares on hand to ensure a quick and easy swap for the failed part(s). The spares might be owned and maintained by the maintenance company as part of your maintenance contract or you might own them and have them repaired independently of your maintenance plan, depending on what you prefer. If you work for a smaller company, keeping critical spares on hand and having a reputable repair company fix failed gear might be a more cost-effective method of maintaining your network.

To learn more about third party network maintenance plans or about how to get your legacy network hardware repaired, request a free consultation with one of our Network Hardware Specialists today!