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3 Approaches to Heterogeneous Infrastructure Support

The enterprise of today is a mish-mash of various hardware, appliances and operating systems. The fact of the matter is that you can’t really get everything you need, in terms of IT solutions, from a single vendor. Even the best efforts at homogeny are almost guaranteed to have some degree or another of variance.

The question, then, isn’t whether you have a heterogeneous infrastructure. The question is how to support your heterogeneous infrastructure. You have, in essence, three options.

Manufacturer-based Support

Many companies assume that, in order to get the best infrastructure support, you need to go right to the manufacturer. In some limited cases, this is probably true. However, unless your company has a near-limitless IT ops budget, it’s not likely that you can afford it. By the time Cisco, Microsoft and Dell get their fair share, there’s little left over for support for the obscure industry-specific applications – which are often the ones that need support the most. For many enterprises, manufacturer-based support just isn’t realistic.

In-house/Minimalist Support

You can go the opposite route, of course. You can try to structure your company’s resources so as to be able to support your infrastructure from an internal perspective. This is, in terms of support contract costs, the least expensive option. You save support contracts to cover only catastrophic hardware failure, and you leave everything else in the hands of your staff.

There are several problems with this approach. First off, it’s not realistic to think your in-house support system will in any way be as qualified as an external one – at least not in every area. Sure, there may be some aspects in which you can do a fine job in-house, but overall you’re going to need some outside help.

There is, of course, also the troublesome issue of availability. Your employees get vacation days, sick days and holidays. Sometimes, they’re just not available. That’s not the case with external support contracts.

Service Provider Support

The middle ground is where most enterprises will fit best. You find a solutions service provider to support your heterogeneous infrastructure. The solutions provider can give you the same kind of expertise that you’d get from the manufacturer, and usually for a lower price. In addition, a service provider can support multiple technologies from multiple manufacturers, reducing the sheer number of service contracts that you have to maintain and reducing the points of contact you need for service.

In addition, you can create a service level agreement with your service provider. This will allow you the peace of mind that, even if your best network engineer is sipping Mai Tai’s on the beach in Cancun, you can still get your network up and running within a matter of hours.

The kind of infrastructure support you choose will, ultimately, depend on your budget, your business priorities and how much risk you’re willing to accept.

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Unitiv, Inc., is a professional provider of enterprise IT solutions. Unitiv delivers its services from its headquarters in Alpharetta, Georgia, USA, and its regional office in Iselin, New Jersey, USA. Unitiv provides a strategic approach to its service delivery, focusing on three core components: People, Products, and Processes. The People to advise and support customers. The Products to design and build solutions. The Processes to govern and manage post-implementation operations.