March 20, 2023 By Bina Hallman 5 min read

Maintaining high availability is critical for certain systems, and contracting proactive support for those mission-critical systems is how organizations can mitigate the potential effects of downtime.

More than three-quarters of CIOs indicated in the 2022 Forrester Priorities Survey that improving IT reliability and resilience is a priority for them. [1] This is hardly a surprise, given the significant impact that downtime can have on organizations. In the IDC report “The Cost of Downtime in Datacenter Environments: Key Drivers and How Support Providers Can Help,” clients advised that the most significant results of downtime were the impact on end-user satisfaction (with the loss of customers due to systems or sites being down) coupled with the financial impacts on time, regulatory compliance and potential penalties. [2] 

In that same report, the IDC outlines the key factors impacting downtime, including the type of workload, industry, and system, and the degree of automation/autonomous IT operations. Another factor to consider is the proliferation of vendors in the data center. Sixty-two percent of the companies surveyed reported that multivendor environments caused more downtime issues than single source. [3]

So, what is the answer to maintaining high availability and reducing the impact and cost of downtime?

Support services directly impact downtime

According to the IDC, “Enterprises should prioritize IT support services by workload criticality, viewing them as an investment in preserving the business value of these systems by relying on vendors for optimized performance.” [4] The report also notes that enterprises surveyed are currently saving 290 hours of downtime with server, storage and networking support contracts; more explicitly, they are preventing 79 hours of unplanned downtime thanks to predictive and proactive support tools. [5] It seems that the more critical the workload, the more proactive support should be considered. 

In addition, the IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Support Services 2022 Vendor Assessment provides a view of the top benefits of support services [6]:

  • Improved hardware performance and overall hardware satisfaction
  • Faster incident resolution time
  • Easier incident resolution (less effort for IT staff)
  • Reduction in incidents due to proactive support services
  • Lower cost of operations across the hardware environment
  • Decrease in system downtime and crashes

Choosing a holistic support strategy

IBM believes these outcomes are achievable with a holistic support and services strategy that includes the following:

  • Predictive support analytics that provide ongoing insights to clients about preventive maintenance. For example, security and maintenance coverage alerts that will help identify product lifecycle exposures specific to IT systems, prevent outages across hybrid IT environments and avoid denials of support on expired contracts.
  • Proactive support that enables clients’ IT staff to focus less on the day-to-day maintenance of systems for things like firmware and code updates or coordination of problem determination and resolution. This type of support ensures priority problem resolution for mission-critical systems.
  • Optimization services that help clients overcome skills gaps, speed the adoption of new technologies, and get the most out of the features that their infrastructure provides.
  • Multivendor capabilities that provide a single point of contact over the data center server, storage, software and networking, enabling clients to improve problem determination and resolution in a hybrid environment.

Predictive analytics

With IBM proactive support, you get predictive analytics that are provided with IBM® Support Insights, IBM® Storage Insights or IBM® Call Home Connect (or all three). They deliver preventive maintenance insights like maintenance coverage, risk assessments and security alerts to help identify product lifecycle exposures specific to IT systems. They also help prevent outages across hybrid IT environments and avoid denials of support on expired contracts. If you have IBM Systems products and aren’t already using these precious resources, find out more about how to register your assets to enable predictive analytics for IBM Systems.

AIOps and support

IBM Systems products and support processes are increasingly relying on AIOps to provide predictive analytics and reduce the mean time to resolve issues (or even signal them before they occur). For example, a cloud-based rules engine predicts system conditions and proactively alerts clients of required action plans directly through the product UI to prevent the problem from occurring.  Automated analysis and debugging of dump data helps support experts resolve incidents and suggest the next actions to fix more quickly.

These are just a couple of examples of the many ways IBM is leveraging AIOps to streamline the support process and improve predictive alerts. We are deeply integrating and incorporating the strategic capabilities IBM Instana Observability (for monitoring and visibility), IBM Turbonomic (for optimization), IBM Cloud Pak for Watson AIOps (for AI-driven IT operational insights) and other third-party ITOps tools to ensure that our platforms continue to be at the forefront of reliability and maintainability. By increasingly integrating analytics and AI capabilities, IBM expects to deliver even more powerful operations support and continued industry leadership.

Proactive support options from IBM

There are a number of ways clients can access proactive support from IBM. For the newest IBM infrastructure products, IBM Expert Care (offered at the time of purchase) provides a tiered approach to support that enables clients to choose the level of support based on their needs and the mission-criticality of the system. The Premium tier of IBM Expert care includes enhanced response times, predictive alerts and a highly-skilled technical account manager (TAM).

The TAM reviews the entire IT environment and is the client focal for any issue, focusing on proactive actions to prevent issues from happening and assisting with problem resolution. With recommended proactive measures, IBM can help clients avoid unplanned downtime and maintain high reliability and availability of their systems. TAMs are different from traditional technical support specialists in that they develop long-term relationships with clients and are their organization’s advocates. Moreover, they have direct collaboration with IBM product development and engineering labs and can deliver enhanced services to meet business objectives

For older versions of IBM infrastructure and products that aren’t rolling out with IBM Expert Care, you can still opt for a more proactive approach with Premium Support Services for IBM Power Systems and IBM Storage and Proactive Support for IBM Z. These offerings are quite similar to the Premium tier of Expert Care and generally provide the same benefits.

The impact of multivendor support

It’s likely you also have infrastructure from other vendors in your data center. We saw above that this multivendor approach brings you more flexibility but increases your likelihood of downtime. We can also help clients more proactively manage their infrastructure holistically with IBM Support Services for Multivendor Server, Storage, Network and Security and support for Microsoft, Oracle, Red Hat and SUSE. Not only can leveraging multivendor support help to reduce your downtime, but it can also provide significant cost savings for many organizations.

Find out more today about the support options IBM Technology Lifecycle Services can provide to your organization to help you reduce downtime and reap additional benefits with proactive and multivendor support for your data center.

 

[1] Forrester Priorities Survey, 2022 Base: 144 Purchase influencers

[2] IDC Perspective: The Cost of Downtime in Datacenter Environments: Key Drivers and How Support Providers can Help, Doc # US50240823, March 2023

[3] IDC Perspective: The Cost of Downtime in Datacenter Environments: Key Drivers and How Support Providers can Help, Doc # US50240823, March 2023

[4] IDC Perspective: The Cost of Downtime in Datacenter Environments: Key Drivers and How Support Providers can Help, Doc # US50240823, March 2023

[5] IDC Perspective: The Cost of Downtime in Datacenter Environments: Key Drivers and How Support Providers can Help, Doc # US50240823, March 2023

[6] IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Support Services 2022 Vendor Assessment, Doc # #US48896919e, March 2022

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