Most people understand the value of purchasing an extended warranty for your business server. We’ve talked here before about the downsides (and they’re severe) of letting your manufacturer’s warranty expire, and business-minded individuals usually grasp the intrinsic value of going ahead and getting an extended warranty. The guys over at Metro Carpets are no exception. In 2009, when they bought a new Dell PowerEdge server (on our recommendation), they also bought a three-year, 24-hour service warranty from Dell. In most cases a 24-hour service warranty is more than enough protection. In a small portion of cases – your worst nightmare type cases – a 24-hour warranty just isn’t enough.
Here’s an example of one of those cases. More importantly, here’s an example of Metro Carpets turning a stressful, and certainly severe, hardware problem into a manageable hiccup that didn’t affect normal business operations.
First, some background.
Metro Carpets is a floor-covering provider focused in residential building in the greater Nashville area. The company of 35 full-time employees uses 38-40 workstations powered by two servers.
Around 5 p.m. on the Monday before Thanksgiving, Metro Carpet’s Warehouse Manager Bruce Bloomer realized that he couldn’t remote access the server platform. Thinking that the process was hung, he tried to reboot the server. The server hung up, failing to shut down. Bruce called a Concept Technology engineer, who went out to Metro Carpet to help assess the problem. When a hard reboot failed, they knew they had a major problem on their hands. The Concept Technology engineer got on the phone with Dell who hypothesized that the motherboard was bad.
Here’s where the 24-hour service warranty came into play. The Concept Technology engineer started the process to get the necessary parts from Dell, but since it was after hours Metro Carpet’s 24-hour warranty didn’t kick in until Tuesday morning, which meant that it would have been Wednesday morning before the parts would come in.
In this situation, Metro Carpet’s would have limped through Tuesday with no computers. Since the server controls Metro Carpet’s interface with its clients and inventory systems, employees would have had to physically record everything on Tuesday and manually input those notes into the computer system the next day; effectively causing the company to lose a day and a half of productivity. And that doesn’t even factor in upset clients because email communications would have been down, etc.
Instead of the “worst-case” situation described above, the Concept Technology engineer convinced Dell to have Metro Carpet’s service warranty upgraded to a 4-hour warranty. On Tuesday morning, both the Dell and Concept Technology engineers were at Metro Carpet’s office, and the server was up and running by 10 a.m.
- If you try enough trouble-shooting, problem-solving avenues, one will eventually pan out. In this instance, it just took persistence on the behalf of the engineer to not settle and allow his client to lose a day and a half of work. Did we mention that it was the engineer’s first week on the job?
- If it’s available and you can afford it, go with the 4-hour warranty.
- It’s also an option to build redundant hardware to prevent something like motherboard failure from bringing down a service or application. For example, by using virtualization you can significantly reduce dependency on the uptime of a specific piece of hardware. (Uptime is the amount of time that a server has stayed up and running.) Naturally, virtualization comes at a significant cost, one that usually outweighs the benefit for many small businesses.