SUMMARY: Maintenance

From: Anthony Yen (
Date: Mon Sep 09 1991 - 17:41:22 CDT

Sun Managers:

I received many replies to my maintenance query. Most people
did not use any of the Sun maintenance options, and instead
allocated the monies and set it aside for a rainy day. When
the end of the fiscal year came around, the two popular options
were purchase an extra workstation or two, or rollover the funds
for next year. If something broke, they just went out and
bought the part, either third-party, used, or direct from Sun.
The usual ratio of money to set aside was 8-12 active work-
stations to monies for one workstation.

Some were in companies that were large enough so they could run
their own internal maintenance group, which then sent off parts
to a Sun depot.

Many mentioned that Motorola ran support programs. The benefit
of using these companies instead of Sun had a benefit that was
not immediately apparent to me until some pointed it out: aside
from the cost savings, these companies usually did not hassle
you about third-party devices on your Sun. Other companies
mentioned were: DEC, EDS, Honywell, National Customer Engi-
neering (NCE), Grumman Systems, and Polaris.

One respondent <> replied:
    "all maintenance on Sun kit is bundled as one deal. This
     gained us a small advantage price wise on maintenance
     and purchase of new equipment."

One respondent <> noted that they got
a great deal on a multi-year hardware maintenance contract with
Sun (meeting or beating all third-party offers) by offering
the entire campus into the bid.

Another took a hybrid approach <>:
> I have found that a time and materials approach is by far the cheapest
> way to go. Many of the vendors, including Sun itself has a quick 1 day
> express exchange for parts. Plus many or even most of the repairs are
> board swaps or parts exchanges that are easy to do by yourself.
> Over the past 3 years I have only carried a maintenance contract on our
> servers, and I figure that I have saved nearly 50% over the best maintenance
> prices I have found.

Several people noted that Sun is drastically scaling back their
service staff in most areas, and farming out their service contracts
to third-parties. So they went direct to the third-parties,
bypassing Sun altogether.

One respondent <> is experimenting with a time
and materials approach, using the same company that does the
terminal maintenance at her site:
> I've put aside $ 6000 for time and
> materials costs based on what I spent during the last fiscal year.
> If you consider that I have close to 45 desktop workstations, that beats
> any monthly contract you can name ( $ 12 per month per machine ). As to
> whether this is the best way to go, ask me again at the end of the year :-).

One person deserves kudos for summarizing the potential cost
savings of a time and materials approach. <>:
> I have in front of me an internal memo from another group here with a detailed
> breakdown of their costs and savings. The have approximately 90 Suns of
> various types. Last year they purchased a stock of spare parts for them, to
> the tune of $120,000, and spent approximately $35000 on 30-day turn around
> depot repairs of failed parts, for a total expenditure of $155,000. The
> normal contract maintenance price (type unspecified) was quoted at $190,000.
> This means that they showed a savings on the first year, after paying for the
> initial spare parts stock, which is largely a one-time expense. They expect
> savings in future years to be in excess of $150,000 per year, not including
> personel time.
Kathy also noted that for sites that have a very heterogenous
platform mix (like her own), it only makes sense to keep a small
assortment of spares for very common failures. Less savings,
but a savings nonetheless.

<arrent!> suggested:
"Call 1-800-627-4881 and ask for Vincent Aturo."

<> suggested Honywell:
> Quotes are anywhere from 20
> to 50 percent off Sun list, depending on number of systems, location,
> types of systems, etc.
> If you want to talk to a sales rep, try Marcia Miller here in Phoenix.
> (602)861-4579. She can direct you to a local Honeywell office.

<> suggested and commented:
> There is one option I'm aware of that works out pretty
> well if you have a *good* techie available on an on-call
> basis. The company is APEX and they are in Redmond
> Washington (the state). Phone 206-867-1900. They sell
> spares, have 24 hour exchnage service, and have just
> about everything for SUN's. You have to troubleshoot
> the equip and then call and order the right part.
> We are a programming house, and down time is *very*
> costly, so SUN on-site service does not seem expensive
> to us. BTW, the sparcs have been very reliable. The WREN IV
> drives have had some problems, but only two out of 18 have
> died in the last two years.

A large factor in many of these decisions was the increased
overall reliability of today's computers. Chances were pretty
good that the entire beastie wouldn't just choke and fall flat
on its face out of the blue sky. If you could get enough
money set aside to just pay for the parts that do commonly fail
(in two years, usually), then you should be okay. These parts
included disk drives, mice, and monitors. Keyboards seem to
be sturdy, unless your end-users are stock brokers. If you
don't have to worry about the entire machine failing at once,
you don't have to insure (get maintenance on) the entire machine.

The respondents:

I'm going ahead with a plan to put together a campus-wide group,
and letting Sun have a same-day contract on the departmental server.
If the group falls through, I'll go with a time and materials

Many thanks to all!

... Kowabunga! ... Sail tough (--- BBDB)
Anthony Yen -
System Administrator - UT/Austin - Economics

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