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Gartner Global IT Council for IT Maintenance Develops Code of Conduct to Address IT Maintenance Consumers’ Most Serious Concerns


The Council Defines Seven Rights of IT Maintenance Consumers

STAMFORD, Conn. - IT maintenance, with its cost, difficulty and expenses, remains one of the most urgent and critical issues for enterprises worldwide, so Gartner, Inc.’s Global IT Council for IT Maintenance has created a Code of Conduct that addresses IT maintenance consumers’ most serious concerns.

The Gartner Global IT Council for IT Maintenance consists of CIOs and senior IT leaders of large enterprises, as well as Gartner analysts, who work together to create actionable real-world recommendations and drive fundamental changes in the way the IT industry works.

“Enterprises need timely, reliable, cost-effective IT maintenance, but they just aren’t getting it,” said David Cappuccio, vice president and chief of research, Gartner. “On the one hand, hardware and software maintenance represents the single largest IT expense for many enterprises, but it’s also a huge source of revenue for IT vendors. This fundamental conflict presents many problems for IT consumers.”

The Council’s Code of Conduct codifies some of the highest-priority rights and responsibilities of vendors and IT organizations, to spark a discussion about how maintenance services can be applied efficiently and cost-effectively, without damaging mission-critical business processes. This discussion among IT organizations, vendors and Gartner analysts should improve everyone’s understanding of maintenance issues, raise awareness of established and emerging issues, and define best practices and expected consumption and execution models.

The Council’s Code of Conduct incorporates seven rights of IT maintenance consumers that it believes will help providers and consumers work more productively together. These rights include:

The right to regular, appropriate, predictable updates to software products – Council members agreed that software vendors should offer all customers an update/patch process with clearly defined frequency and duration timelines. Furthermore, vendors should use a defined process for delivering emergency updates when serious operational or security flaws are discovered, including mechanisms for notifying stakeholders in advance. Scheduled and emergency updates should align with contract lengths and product life cycles, so that enterprises can plan their purchases without paying for unnecessary or unwanted releases. Finally, IT maintenance contracts should address customers’ specific regional support and provide for comparable levels of support, at comparable cost, across all regions where they do business.

The right to clearly defined response times and stratified IT support levels based on application criticality and other business factors – Maintenance contracts should clearly state the response times IT vendors will deliver for specific applications and specific issues, and IT consumers should demand defined, time-bound escalation paths for specific maintenance issues. IT vendors should offer varying levels of maintenance support based on specific enterprise criteria, including the degree of criticality of the application being supported, its importance in terms of business continuity management (BCM) and disaster recovery (DR) plans, and the need for region- and time-zone-sensitive support.

The right to reasonable, predictable percentage ranges for yearly maintenance fee increases — or decreases — as well as long-term caps on increases in maintenance costs – Established “powerhouse” vendors that support multiple key processes know their customers cannot easily migrate to another vendor’s products. This lack of leverage limits customers’ ability to negotiate for realistic increases — or graduated decreases — in maintenance fees. The Council recommends that fee-increase ceilings — including ceilings on increases following the end of initial contracts — should be built into all maintenance contracts, while maintenance pricing should be based on broadly recognized, publicly disseminated consumer price indexes and, where contracts are written in local currencies, inflation indexes based on those currencies.

The right to end or change support at any time for products that are not in use – Council members said they want much greater flexibility in support because of the need to address international requirements and changing demands resulting from merger-and-acquisition activity and varying business requirements. They recommend that IT vendors offer much greater flexibility in maintenance contracts, to enable enterprises to adjust their support levels and associated costs to address the demands of a highly volatile business environment and reflect real-world usage levels. Vendors should also allow IT consumers to end support, and associated costs, for applications that are no longer in production use, and to transfer licenses from one business unit or region to another.

The right to reasonable, predictable levels of support throughout product and contract life cycles – The members of the council want to see written contracts that clearly specify vendors’ maintenance and support responsibilities throughout the product life cycle. They agreed that IT consumers have a right to expect complete transparency regarding the levels of maintenance support they will receive from vendors, while IT vendors have a responsibility to proactively communicate — through e-mail alerts and other proactive mechanisms — any changes in real-world support levels.

The right to reasonable, clearly defined maintenance and support for legacy systems – Several members of the IT Council pointed to the difficulty of determining precisely when a product becomes a legacy application. They agreed that this is highly problematic for vendors, who can’t always be expected to offer ongoing support for their products. The Council concluded that IT vendors’ contracts should clearly specify how long a customer can expect support for a product, even after that product’s vendor-defined life cycle has ended. IT vendors should offer a road map for any declining levels of support for legacy products, explicitly demarcating the point at which support may become more limited and, in at least some cases, providing for lower support costs.

The right to explicit statement and approval of support details at the line-item level – Lack of clarity in support agreements leads to confusion and conflict between IT consumers and vendors. Contracts must have a degree of specificity that ensures that vendors deliver appropriate, agreed-upon levels of support. A detailed breakdown by line item allows future upgrades, or changes to service level agreements (SLAs), with a clear understanding by both customer and vendor for what support will actually cost.

“The members of the Gartner Global IT Council for IT Maintenance believe that industry-wide adoption of these principles and recommendations will bring significant benefits for IT consumers and vendors,” Mr. Cappuccio said. “This Code of Conduct will mark a starting point for a valuable ongoing discussion among the various stakeholders, with the goal of transforming these basic principles into standards that are accepted and respected across the industry.”

Additional information is in the Gartner report “Gartner Global IT Council for IT Maintenance.” The report is available on Gartner’s website at

Mr. Cappucio will host a free Gartner webinar on “Cost Effective IT Maintenance Strategy Tips From the Gartner Global IT Council” on Wednesday, August 4, 2010 at 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM ET. To register and attend the webinar, visit

A panel of Gartner analysts and CIOs will discuss the recommendations of the Gartner Global IT Council for IT Maintenance at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando, FL., at 8 a.m. ET on Tuesday, October 19, 2010. More information is available on the event website at

About Gartner:
Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) is the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company. Gartner deliver the technology-related insight necessary for its clients to make the right decisions, every day. From CIOs and senior IT leaders in corporations and government agencies, to business leaders in high-tech and telecom enterprises and professional services firms, to technology investors, Gartner is the indispensable partner to approximately 60,000 clients in 10,000 distinct organizations. Through the resources of Gartner Research, Gartner Executive Programs, Gartner Consulting and Gartner Events, Gartner works with every client to research, analyze and interpret the business of IT within the context of their individual role. Founded in 1979, Gartner is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.A., and has approximately 4,300 associates, including approximately 1,200 research analysts and consultants serving clients in 80 countries. For more information, visit


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