Tuesday, April 24, 2007

enterprise support from technology partners

Five years ago, I was pounding Microsoft on their lack of understanding of enterprise support. It is amazing how far they have come. I remember a couple of years back, an incident relating to a system based on SQL server. It was terrible !! The answers back from Microsoft were very casual .. try this patch ! Of course, nothing being hot patchable however, luckily not requiring a complete rebuild of WindowsNT server, an hour later when we figured that didn't work, the answer was, OK, try this now. We felt really foolish architecting a mission critical enterprise application on SQL server.

Microsoft has really come a long way since that. I was very pleasantly surprized in a recent encounter on how they have matured. Their crisis technical lead was clear, crisp, unfazed by pressure and clearly knew what he was talking about. That instilled confidence. He knew how to distill and present the facts and avoid making false promises. Also, their follow-the-sun model actually worked !! The transitions were seamless with knowledgement transfer occuring behind the scene and a warm hand-off with 1 hr overlap. Their account team was on the ball and follow-up and follow through was perfect. In fact, they chased me !!

Other examples of great support I have received are from BEA. BEA's account manager takes the unique honor of being the only sales guy I know who stuck with me for 36 hours straight during a crisis situation helping with anything he could (including doing the coffee rounds). I never believed a sales guy had that kind of stamina ;-). Oracle's down systems group are also top notch.

Technology partners usually have to support crisis situations remotely. They will depend on you for information and one of the challenges is to be able to supply it to them - real-time. Simple things like file-size limits in your email servers can look like bad ideas in these circumstances. Firewalls are a fact of life so, have a strategy on how your technology partners get access to your systems/intranet when you need them to.