Gartner's global IT council for IT maintenance has created a code of conduct to address the most serious concerns in that area.

Gartner believes that the seven rights of IT maintenance for consumers will help providers and consumers work more productively together. It said that it has ‘codified' some of the highest-priority rights and responsibilities of vendors and IT organisations to spark discussion about how maintenance services can be applied efficiently and cost-effectively, without damaging mission-critical business processes.

The seven rights are the right to: regular, appropriate, predictable updates to software products; clearly defined response times and stratified IT support levels based on application criticality and other business factors; reasonable, predictable percentage ranges for yearly maintenance fee increases — or decreases — as well as long-term caps on increases in maintenance costs; end or change support at any time for products that are not in use; reasonable, predictable levels of support throughout product and contract life cycles; reasonable, clearly defined maintenance and support for legacy systems; and explicit statement and approval of support details at the line-item level.

David Cappuccio, vice president and chief of research at Gartner, said: “Enterprises need timely, reliable, cost-effective IT maintenance, but they just are not getting it. 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 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. 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.”