Nowadays, most hardware and software come with additional support fees. We know, it can sometimes seem like adding insult to injury when you see those dollars add up, and it may make you think to yourself, “Is this even necessary?”
Sadly, it is.
You might be wondering why this is a necessary part of your IT solution, whether it be your virtualization OS like VMware, your firewall, or servers, etc. There are several reasons.
It’s your vendor’s agreement to help you in the event of an issue
This support contract is your vendor agreeing to help you identify, troubleshoot and resolve issues you may have with the product you bought from them. This typically includes helpdesk functionality and escalation to experienced engineers to help rectify any issues. Having support may also grant you the ability to call a helpdesk instead of submitting an email ticket, which is much more helpful when you need assistance immediately. Some vendors give you full new versions of software as long as your support is up to date.
Of course, we’re always there to help in the event of an issue, but even we need your vendors’ support to get you the fastest resolutions and best fixes. There could be bugs in the code, there could simply be a defect with your hardware – there’s a lot that may still be out of our control as your IT team and your vendor’s support agreement is an important part for us to keep you up and running.
You get patches and updates
Some vendors may only push patching or updates to products that are under support. This is a critical function because patches frequently address security vulnerabilities or troublesome bugs in the code. Without receiving these, at best you may be running technology that has ongoing issues and at worst, you’re leaving yourself open to cyberattack or complete data loss.
You only get certain services if your support is active
There are some product features that may not work if your support lapses. We frequently see this with firewalls from Fortinet – the content filtering or other threat management features will shut off. This is also a reason why it’s important to consistently keep your support up to date. We’ve had several schools call with their hair on fire because the students could suddenly access all manner of unsavory websites when the firewall support lapsed.
Depending on the vendor, there are reinstatement penalties
How lapsed support is handled really depends on the vendor. You may only have to pay back fees for all the days that were missed. You may have to pay an additional penalty. You may miss out on being able to update your software and have to buy it anew all over again for a premium.
Many vendors provide multi-year agreements for support that provide a sizable discount. We often recommend this because it minimizes things to keep track of and saves you money!
Think of your vendor support agreements like insurance – it’s there in the event you need it. If you don’t keep it active, you don’t get the protection. If you let it lapse, you’re going to have to pay the piper to reinstate it, especially to address a problem.