Five Tips for Dealing with IBM i Extended Maintenance

toolboxAt some point in your IBM i Power systems’ life, you may have to extend software and hardware maintenance on your machine. If your current maintenance contract is running out, here are five things to consider when you’re looking at extended maintenance on an existing Power system machine running IBM I.

  1. Try to buy your maintenance from IBM rather than your business partner. The business partner has a minor role in maintenance delivery and may even add some additional costs (profit) into the extended maintenance contract. You also need to consider what happens if you need to cancel your contract and need a refund for the unused maintenance. If you buy through the business partner, the business partner has to request the refund not you, and it becomes another layer between you and the maintenance money you already paid out. If you buy from IBM, the refund comes straight to you without another entity handling it first. It’s just cleaner to deal with IBM directly on maintenance contracts and IMHO, there isn’t a big value add in buying from the business partner. My recommendation is to always buy extended maintenance directly from IBM, if possible. 
  2. Buy a long-term maintenance contract, even if you’re only going to be using the maintenance for a few months. IBM offers better maintenance rates for long-term maintenance (more than a year) than it does for short-term maintenance (less than a year). What’s more, you can sign a long-term contract and then cancel that contract after you decommission the machine and notify IBM that it is no longer in use (“permanently remove it from productive service,” in IBM parlance). So if you needed to use a machine for six months for example, you could sign a three-year maintenance contract and get a lower rate. You could then cancel the contract after five months (citing the “productive use” clause), your maintenance would be terminated, and you wouldn’t need to pay for any additional maintenance.
  3. Don’t pay maintenance in advance. If you purchase a three-year maintenance contract to get lower pricing for a six-month extension for example, don’t pay for three years in advance. Work with IBM to set up a quarterly payment schedule. They will let you do that. That way, you hang on to your money and only pay IBM as you use the maintenance. A lot of business partners and even IBM itself, may encourage you to pay the entire contract in advance so they can get their money up front. That’s a bad move. By paying up front, IBM and the business partner get your money for the entire extended period (possibly as much as three years). This is money you could probably better use elsewhere in your business. And if you want to cancel early, there’s a lot more money you have to worry about retrieving from IBM (and maybe the business partner, see point 1). And you have to go through the bother of waiting several months to get your money back. There’s also the problem of getting all of your money back, instead of an amount that IBM or your business partner will want to calculate for the unused maintenance (which you may not agree with). Put yourself on a payment schedule with extended maintenance and hang on to your money. You’ll thank yourself for it.
  4. Understand that IBM i and Power i maintenance travels with the machine serial number; they are not severable. Remember the “productive use” clause. If you upgrade your machine to a new Power 7+ box with the same serial number, you may not be entitled to cancel the extended maintenance contract you signed for the old machine. IBM will want to just carry over the existing maintenance contract to the upgraded box with the same serial number. So if there’s a special deal on maintenance with your new box and you still have prepaid maintenance on your existing serial number, you may not be able to take advantage of any new deals that will reduce the cost of your maintenance (such as one year free maintenance).
  5. If you’re upgrading an existing box with prepaid maintenance, make sure you’re not double-paying for maintenance. Some people take out an extended maintenance contract and then upgrade their existing Power system to new Power 7+ technology with the same serial number and forget they have prepaid maintenance. The business partner may not know they’ve already prepaid maintenance and accidentally charge you again for maintenance you already have (or worse, they may use it as an opportunity to get you to spend more money for something you don’t need). Be careful you don’t overpay for maintenance when upgrading a box with an extended maintenance contract. Keep track of your maintenance.

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This post sponsored by Hertvik Business Services (HBS). HBS provides IT consulting and content production services for the IT industry, including review and consulting on IBM i (AS/400) high availability environments. Feel free to contact Joe Hertvik for a free consultation and estimate for your projects.

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About Joe Hertvik

Joe is the owner of Hertvik Business Services, a service company providing written white papers, case studies, and other marketing content to computer industry companies. He is also a contributing editor for IT Jungle and has written the Admin Alert column for the past ten years. Follow Joe Hertvik on Twitter @JoeHertvik. Email Joe for a free quote on white papers, case studies, brochures, or other marketing materials.
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