Maintenance is an important factor in extending the lifecycle of devices and networks. Effective maintenance can also improve end-customer satisfaction, so it is no wonder many channel companies have sophisticated maintenance provisions within their services offerings.
With many businesses in the channel moving towards managed services, maintenance is of vital importance in helping to reduce costs for both the MSP or reseller themselves, and the end customer.
Take the uninterruptible power supply (UPS) as an example. If these solutions are adequately maintained, the components will last longer leading to an improved ROI.
Josh Naylor, divisional manager, CertaUPS, explained, “Life expectancy takes into account [areas including] environment, temperature, maintenance, number of discharge cycles, and the charging regime. Some batteries have a 10-year design life and would generally need replacement in approximately 6-8 years [if not robustly maintained].”
Developing an offering
Many maintenance offerings within the channel are included as part of an overall managed service. This can reduce costs for both parties, with devices and/or components lasting longer, as well as efficiency improvements due to improved uptime. When looking to develop an offering, resellers and MSPs should start with discussions with their customers.
Truly understanding what issues commonly come up within their customer base will ensure any new or improved offering can solve the right challenges.
In addition, resellers and MSPs will need to examine the solutions and devices in use by their customers so they can ascertain what maintenance might be required, and what intervals would be appropriate between visits.
In terms of recent remote monitoring or maintenance innovations that channel companies should be aware of, Lee Broxson, CSO, Jola, discussed how mobile data is supporting remote maintenance projects, as well as the broader maintenance industry.
He explained, “Mobile data is helping businesses innovate within the service and maintenance industry. Jola partners offer solutions using smart devices and multi-network roaming SIMs to help them service vehicle fleets.
“It is much more accurate and efficient than engineers completing manual paperwork and office staff retyping this information into relevant systems. Private APNs are used to ensure secure data transfer.”
Broxson pointed to a couple of use cases. He said, “Jola resellers help property owners and developers to monitor carbon levels. They have created solutions to monitor energy consumption across many different devices within the home. Their devices need 4G to report usage information and for general maintenance of the equipment.”
Another example is in the catering or food production industries. Broxson said, “We support resellers working on predictive maintenance within commercial ovens. The devices monitor the health of the ovens, predicting in advance, when the ovens will need to be serviced.”
He added that the company’s MSP partners offer managed solutions on a pay-per-month basis. He said, “SIMs are being used in smart sensors to measure air quality, as well as in smart fire and burglar alarms. Smart routers that are pre-configured and arrive plug-and-play help reduce installation costs and multi-network SIMs negate the need for engineer visits.”
Maintenance in action
Nowadays, maintenance is also commonly wrapped into long-term contracts. This ensures service providers and their customers are clear on responsibilities from the outset. North recently secured a contract with South Tyneside Council to deliver a CCTV control centre.
As part of the £600k contract, North will design and relocate a fully integrated CCTV Control Centre, which will include the integration of multiple security systems merging access control, intruder detection and life safety, into one system to provide greater situational awareness and enhance incident management.
The new facility will be used to monitor Council services, including public space CCTV, local schools and wireless re-deployable cameras that will be located in areas such as problematic fly tipping spots and high-traffic zones. Importantly, this will help South Tyneside Council create cleaner, safer and greener environments, with the new control centre expected to be complete by September 2023.
Following the installation, North will provide a five-year support service package which will include the maintenance of public space CCTV cameras. In addition, the service provider will upgrade analogue cameras to high-resolution digital devices, providing superior image quality to help improve incident management.
The upgrade will help the council implement cost-effective solutions that aid its mission to create an attractive and safe place for residents to call home.
Daniel Chappell, technical account manager at North, explained, “North is proud to help create safer communities within South Tyneside through the delivery of a state-of-the-art CCTV control centre, accelerating the local authority’s digitalisation goals.
“South Tyneside will now enjoy the benefits of integrated technology and new cameras which monitor a 360-view of the area with clearer images achieved through enhanced sensors.
“We are proud to have an established relationship with South Tyneside Council which continues to evolve and is testament to the high-quality services and trusted advice provided by North. We look forward to building on this strong foundation as the local authority prioritises safer, cleaner, greener environments for future generations.”
On the other hand, sometimes a project aims to remove the need for maintenance. Danosa are waterproofing, thermal and acoustic installation experts, with production and logistics centres in the UK and across Europe.
The company was originally using different PBX-based phone systems across several sites in the UK. There was no centralised phone system which made the process unnecessarily complicated. A major concern was regarding their future relocation, as the current phone system was not easily portable to a new site.
Additionally, the company were paying for calls between sites, while paying monthly fees for calls to UK local, national and mobile numbers. Danosa needed a telephony system that would allow for future growth and expansion while keeping costs to a minimum.
Gamma’s partner Solution IP undertook a full review of the current setup and services to highlight the areas for improvement and recommended the hosted Horizon platform. A thorough bill analysis identified where cost savings could be made, reassuring Danosa that a move to Horizon was a more feasible option for their longer term business needs.
Horizon is cloud-based and accessed via a web-based portal so there are no PBX maintenance costs for Danosa’s customers to worry about. Horizon took into consideration all number porting, DDI distribution and geographical numbering. For more efficient call routing and handling, a personalised auto-attendant was set up to dial specific extensions.
Horizon offers Danosa a full range of business-focused features with an emphasis on control and administration through the web that takes the burden away from their IT team. Employees can now manage their calls easily and effectively, maximising individual productivity.
This solution delivered a number of benefits for Danosa. That included the elimination of UK call charges, improved efficiency and the ability to easily relocate to bigger premises for future expansion plans. Crucially, the new solution meant there was no need for ongoing system maintenance and update costs.
Jay Smith, operations director, Danosa, said, “When we began working with Solution IP, it was immediately obvious that they understood the needs of our rapidly growing business. The system they installed is full of useful features. The whole process of moving across to Hosted was managed with no disruption to our business.”
Some channel companies are also finding offering customers a software-based solution, instead of a hardware-first one, can reduce maintenance costs.
Tom Archer, UK and Ireland regional sales manager at Nerdio, said, “Companies have traditionally replaced user hardware, like laptops and desktops, with new devices typically every three years to ensure that performance levels are maintained.
“However, I believe the maintenance and renewal of this equipment is often a waste of budget – with many replacing employee devices unnecessarily and at a high cost to the environment.”
Archer explained that desktop-as-a-service, or DaaS, can help reduce the scale of maintenance needed. He said, “DaaS can helps to reduce the amount of hardware used as people can connect to the system from any device, regardless of its age.
“This increases endpoints’ lifespan and allows people to work from anywhere using a laptop and without the need of local networks or physical desktops on office sites.
“Additionally, companies can leverage clients for DaaS that effectively allow IT to turn aging devices into modern, cloud-based devices. This allows them to extend the lifecycles of their devices and hardware investments while supporting IT teams with modern management and observability via the cloud.”