Fixing the break/fix strategy

Constant monitoring is good; proactive planning and foresight, for the worst scenario, is better.

‘Plan A’, for any datacentre, works when everything goes according to plan; problem-free, no downtime other than when planned, no frustrated users, no break in service delivery. This is why it’s called Plan A. It’s a place where everything is A-Okay.

‘Plan B’ is the fallback, swung into action when optimum datacentre performance is compromised. ‘Plan C’ is territory nobody wants to wander into. It’s unchartered, dark, and depressing.

Although constant vigilance – monitoring the network, servers and storage – generally ensures that problems can be identified and isolated before they become threats to mission-critical performance, another layer of reassurance is essential.

It’s one that managed services providers, custodians of Tier 1 datacentres, and some organisations who take care of their own IT, sometimes simply do not take into account. It’s summed up in the well-known IT phrase: “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes”, meaning “Who looks after the needs of the people who look after the needs of the system”.1 What if the plans established for when things go wrong, go wrong themselves?

Response readiness

IT hardware never quite dies. It just fades away. As it does, it creaks at the edges. Parts malfunction, or stop functioning. When they do, they tend nearly always to do so at the least convenient time or, in other words, the most catastrophic time possible.

Almost by definition, break/fix is time-dependent. Issues need to be resolved fast. When they’re seen to be coming and can be fixed at the software level, through remote monitoring and management (RMM), the resolution can be almost instantaneous; often automated, potential failures nipped in the bud before they’ve blossomed.

When machines malfunction, the human element comes into play. Here’s where possible weaknesses lie. Here’s where reliance on the supply chain is often untested until it is; assumed to be ready to be called upon, until it isn’t. This is a reactive world, not a proactive one.

Yet by being proactive in the panic, cost, and delay that can accompany Plan B, organisations can not only be prepared for more eventualities of the worst scenario, they can also extend the life of their existing IT systems and extract optimum return from their initial investment.

So, what part does the supply chain play in all this? This is when physical equipment is needed, with minimal delay. While managed services providers will often work on SLAs of around four hours, such promises can only be fulfilled if the equipment is actually available. It will either be stored by the MSP, where a break-fix contract is in place, or stored by the end -user in situations where an organisation manages its own IT and holds reserve hardware on-site.

In both circumstances, two variables have to be considered. Firstly, that the precise replacement kit exists in the system and, secondly, that it is in stock at a location permitting call-off, delivery, and installation within the stated SLA.

Ready availability of replacement equipment is more assured with latest generation servers, appropriate power supply units, network cards, and peripherals. Older, and end-of-life, kit is less easy to accommodate. If server replacements need to be pre-configured pre-delivery, delays can occur. If equipment is not in stock somewhere, delays are guaranteed.

Constant preparedness

The older the hardware, the greater the likelihood that it will require attention at some point. This requirement raises a far more strategic consideration than simply being robustly prepared for the worst scenario.

Imminent potential problems can also bring opportunities when cause and effect are analysed from financial and operational perspectives. In adopting a pro-active approach to ensuring successful Plan B outcomes, organisations can maintain a state of good health for their systems for longer. By proactively replacing (or upgrading) ageing units, or even component parts, the life of the equipment can be extended.

For the customers of managed services providers, this approach alleviates the cost burden of break/fix interventions. For managed service providers themselves, becoming ambassadors and practitioners of such an approach enables them to consolidate relationships with customers by moving more to a strategic partnership model and becoming regarded less as simply the fixers; called upon only in bad times. They become more strategic advisors and are seen to add value to the business rather than simply preserving the value it already has.

Yet, still, whether a dependence on break/fix support is your preferred route, or more in-depth understanding of where problems may come one day, or someday soon, this ‘additional layer of reassurance’ I mentioned earlier, becomes critical.

It all boils down to maintaining a stock of spares, accessible at short notice. IT continuity leans heavily on seamless logistics; the physical process of getting whatever is needed to wherever it is needed and as close to the moment of need as possible; just-in-time datacentre services.

With the delivery to site of hardware, speed of response is a function of distance. The closer the hardware is to the point of need, the faster it can arrive at the moment of need. Excotek hold stock nationwide, served by our hubs in Manchester and London. We hold both component parts and consignment stock on behalf of clients. We can fulfil urgent requirements same day or next day. Even with this service the question still arises: What about custom-configured servers, when particular server configuration is not addressed by stocked models?

Excotek provides servers the way you want them, when you need them. With Configure to Order (CTO) servers we respond to your needs quickly, a tailored response to every project, delivered at speed. We quote within the hour and usually have the order on its way to your location within hours after that. It’s a global service. It’s the end of ever having to worry about Plan B.

Who knows when crunch time may come? If you want to chat about being totally prepared for it, anytime, anywhere, please get in touch: [email protected]

1 A little creative license there. It actually means “Who will guard the guards themselves”, or, in other words, “Who watches the watchers?” It comes from ‘Satires’ by the Roman poet, Juvenal, a chap who clearly understood the impact of a weak link in the IT logistics chain.
Meurig Evans
Business Development Manager
IT Supply Chain
May 25, 2022
3 min read
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