Feature

Vendor support falls short

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A better working relationship
One way to get better technical support is to treat your primary vendor's technical support representative as a trusted member of your storage team. That means the technical sales rep participates in the development and execution of your business strategy. This includes communicating common storage strategies across the organization, educating business peers on storage dependencies and setting up proper performance expectations, as well as ensuring that the storage infrastructure is protected against failure.

Nonetheless, the time required for a vendor's technical support team to get up to speed with a company's staff, organization, priorities and business climate will be at least three or four months. Furthermore, vendor technicians, once they get up to speed at a company, are often transferred to other "troubled" accounts. This practice continues to erode the trust between storage professionals and their technical support teams, and further contributes to low support ratings from users.

"The support staff is only reading a checklist and doesn't have experience," says a storage manager at a multinational pharmaceutical firm. "Plus, the response time is much too long."

In an attempt to buttress the effectiveness of their support organizations, primary storage providers sometimes limit or delay the number of products they certify/support when used with their products. For example, EMC delayed support for McData Corp.'s

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Eclipse; for its SAN Volume Controller, IBM delayed support for EMC's Clariion; and HP delayed support for NetApp's V-Series products. However, this strategy has angered many users.

Out-of-control storage consumption
According to TheInfoPro, SAN capacity has doubled in the last year and NAS storage has quadrupled. Business users are complaining about the time it takes to purchase and provision storage. Furthermore, the state of capacity planning and forecasting is inadequate. Storage professionals can't project data warehouse, application and file growth accurately, and find themselves reacting to storage demands rather than proactively planning storage growth. Vendors, of course, are all too willing to sell more and larger boxes, rather than help users better manage what they have.

"We won't even buy a midrange unit from them again because the service put us down for weeks at a time," says a storage manager at a technology company.

This was first published in May 2006

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