Negotiating for support


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Support issues
Vendors typically offer multiple levels of technical help, ranging from basic telephone support that may include firmware upgrades, to comprehensive 24/7 onsite support with a two-hour response time. The price for such support ranges from free during the warranty period to 30% or more of the list price of the storage gear. Most support programs cost 15% to 20% of the list price of the storage gear, with 18% being a commonly cited figure.

Once the warranty period ends, most storage vendors would rather sell a new array than mess around with service commitments on older equipment that's increasingly likely to fail. And many storage managers would rather buy a new array soon after the warranty ends on an old device.

Whatever a company pays for support, the actual service will most likely be delivered through third parties certified by the vendor. These include VARs, storage integrators like Datalink Corp., consulting firms like GlassHouse Technologies Inc., and large global service organizations like Anacomp Inc. and Eastman Kodak Co. Although some large storage vendors such as EMC Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM Corp. maintain their own support staffs (at least in major markets), much of the actual onsite vendor service is delivered by third parties.

"Don't expect any of these third-party firms to necessarily be familiar with your storage unless you have a very popular array," warns a storage vendor CEO, who

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uses third parties to deliver his company's service. The third-party firms provide service for multiple vendors, each with multiple storage models. However, the likelihood that the service representative showing up at your site somewhere in the hinterlands will be familiar with your particular storage array is small, says the CEO.

This was first published in May 2007

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