Infrastructure Management is all in a Day’s Work for Bell Micro’s OEM Team

Infrastructure management remains one of the nagging, unresolved issues of the information age. Companies bring more computer equipment in every size, shape and form into their data centers and offices. Getting this equipment installed and configured is rarely a problem. But tracking what pieces of equipment are under warranty, and when those warranties expire and keeping that information easily accessible when it is needed, is a rarity. Add the software maintenance contracts for each OS and application, each of which has its own expiration date, and the burden on already stressed IT teams is enormous.

The role of a Value Added Reseller (VAR) or embedded systems/OEM customer makes this type of warranty and service contract tracking even more important and difficult to accomplish. A typical VAR or OEM provides computing systems to tens or even hundreds of end-user organizations. Tracking equipment and warranty contracts across all of these customer environments is virtually impossible using traditional methods like spreadsheets. Because of this VARs and OEMs often don’t know until one of their customers calls with a problem that a warranty or service contract has expired. Then, before the problem can be fixed, the warranty must be extended or the service contract must be renewed. This delays the break/fix process and lowers customer satisfaction.

More importantly to most VARs or OEMs, however, this type of gap between current equipment and systems and the contracts in place to support and service them represents significant lost revenue opportunity. Just by closing this gap – and increasing the percentage of contracts which are renewed rather than allowed to expire – VARs adn OEMs can expect to see a 15% increase in the available revenue from their installed customer base. This revenue has another advantage to these partners: it’s recurring. This means it is more predictable and easier to collect than revenue from the sale of equipment or software.

Bell Micro offers a service as part of its contract with VARs and OEMs that solves the problem of infrastructure management for its partners and their end-users that offers revenue advantages. The service is called Bell Micro Asset Management. Powered by a piece of software from a company called ServTrax, the Asset Management service provides a web browser interface into a backend piece of software with a database designed to track, report and proactively alert on customer warranties and service contracts. With this service, VARs and OEMs can:

  • Quickly and easily generate customer proposals working with equipment and software obtained from Bell Micro
  • Generate reports on each of their customers as to what equipment is coming off warranty and when
  • More easily justify the purchase of new equipment and contract extensions
  • Grant their end-users access to the website for their own reporting and planning
  • Track trouble tickets for problems associated with equipment in the database

It is this last benefit that provides one of the more compelling reasons to use the service. If there is some sort of equipment failure or malfunction, the first piece of information that organizations typically need about how to best respond to the problem is the equipment’s warranty information. By giving companies ready access to the warranty information over the web, it gives them a central point to quickly find the information they need, make an informed decision about to respond to the problem and then immediately open a trouble ticket associated with that piece of equipment if they determine that is the correct course of action. The servicing company can also then use this portal as a means to track trouble tickets and respond to problem calls from the client.

The benefits to end-users go beyond ticket tracking. Tracking warranties and service contracts enables companies to:

  • Predict and plan for warranty extensions and service contract renewals
  • Lower or eliminate repair bills by servicing faulty equipment under existing warranties
  • Make informed decisions about whether to maintain old equipment or buy new
  • Minimize data center footprints with higher capacity storage systems
  • Replace inefficient computer systems with newer, more energy efficient versions
  • Track what equipment and software they own and where it is located
  • Track which equipment and software requires the least and most amount of maintenance

Managing computer equipment and the warranties associated with them is one of those tasks that responsible companies know they should do but which is typically too time-consuming to successfully execute upon. By working with Bell Micro, the benefits that VARs and OEMs can receive and then offer to their own customers alleviates this problem. Bell Micro takes care of the busy work of filling out the upfront paperwork plus it makes the information securely available to business partners over the web. In so doing, companies now have the information they need at their fingertips to better manage the equipment they already own as well as justify why it is time to replace it.

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