Vendor support falls short


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How to work around poor product support

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  • Hire more staff
  • Build internal SWAT teams and competency centers
  • Shift repetitive tasks to temporary employees
  • When appropriate, use local value-added resellers
  • Delay firmware upgrades
  • Vigorously test new storage products

In light of the rapid growth of networked storage, it's easy to forget that five years ago a storage team or an enterprise-wide SAN were the exceptions. Storage organizations are relatively new entities in many companies. But a variety of new technological innovations could threaten the relatively new storage teams. For example, to support rapidly growing NAS systems, many storage organizations have to work closer with their networking administrators. Wide-area file services are becoming a popular way to support remote offices, but they require the IP networking and storage admin teams to coordinate their efforts. Security officers are starting to set new guidelines for storage. This means that a larger number of professionals are involved in data storage. While some storage vendors foresaw these convergences, they still didn't invest sufficiently in their sales and technical support organizations to ensure that their people were knowledgeable in all of the different technologies that comprise an effective storage strategy. Storage professionals are frustrated with having to educate multiple technical support teams from the same company.

"Our biggest reason for getting rid of them is the structure of their support organization," says a storage director at a large media company. "It's horrible."

Vendors know the problem
The good news is that vendors are aware that their technical support organizations are getting low marks. They know they must invest in technical support and upgrade their services to remain competitive. Today, vendors can't get away with selling a complex product and then walking away, forcing the user to turn to a high-priced consultant for help. At TheInfoPro, we're seeing positive feedback on customer ratings for vendor "management vision" and "technical innovation." However, one thing is certain: if Cisco Systems Inc., EMC, HP, IBM, NetApp, Sun and Symantec Corp. are unable to convert high ratings in these areas into superior product support, a more support-minded startup will be ready to replace them.

This was first published in May 2006

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