Re: Vendor Specific Requirements

I decided to write this in a post rather than a comment because it turned out to be a little long for a comment in my opinion.

So, to paraphrase, vendors are shoving things into user's environments and then the users get caught "in the middle of 'I don't care' from the vendors.

The users:

So the users have a bunch of different types of equipment in the their storage environments.  They have kept things heterogeneous so as to get good pricing from the storage vendors and, in turn, get a good return on their investment.  The users expect the vendors to remain as engaged as they were during the purchase cycle, but are realizing that this just isn't occurring and are disappointed.  Everything runs fine for a while (most of the time), and now it comes time for the users to do an upgrade of some sort to equipment that is attached to the storage environment.  (Yes storage vendors, users have to maintain their environment.  All the other vendors drop support for things the exact same way you do.)  This is when the user starts to have troubles.  They've upgraded a tape driver (or some other storage device driver) and now they can't see their disk drives.  No one wants to help them troubleshoot their problem because "it's not in the support matrix".  And this is where the users get stuck "in the middle of 'I don't care' from the vendors".

The vendors:

So the vendors have developed hardware and software for the users to utilize in their storage environments.  They have spent gobs of dollars developing, testing, and selling the goods to the users and now want to reap the rewards. They have a vested interest to get the product out the door and onto the users data center floor so that they can meet "The Streets" numbers and make their investors happy.  So they meet with said users and sell them some goods based on initial requirements, given them by the user, and get the goods implemented on the data center floor.  The users are happy and the investors are happy.  Now the sales team goes off and moves onto the next user to sell them some goods to keep the investors happy.  The sales team doesn't have "cycles" to spend with a customer that has already bought something and the users start to feel neglected.  Now the users have to maintain their environment (weird huh?) and this creates a problem in the users environment.  So the user calls the support line and after following the sun around the world they finally get someone on the phone that understands what a storage environment is (and the native language for that matter).  They go through a few things and it turns out that the vendor hasn't tested the new driver and it's not in their support matrix.  Now the vendor tells the user that "it's not my problem, call that other vendor".  And again the user is now caught "in the middle of "I don't cares'".

The solution:

So what is a user to do?  Well, there are a couple things I would do (and have done).

  1. Create a master support document that documents all levels of firmware, microcode, driver, etc. for all hardware and software in your storage environment and MAKE all your vendors support it.  Put it in the contract or master purchase agreement that they will support your current levels of code and any future levels of code.  If they won't, then you don't buy from them.
  2. Create a quarterly review process to review all upgrades as they pertain to your storage environment and ensure that all your vendors will support the proposed code levels before upgrading.
Now, not all shops are big enough to do those couple things or they probably are way under staffed and don't have the time to do it.  So this is where the storage partner comes in.  A company that doesn't manufacture anything or develop any software.  A company that can take first call support for problems and that will be on the hook for the problems from start to finish.  A company like this would have to maintain good customer relations or they would be out of business.  If the customer isn't happy, they won't return and buy more stuff and the company would go out of business, simple.  I would highly recommend that all users find a company  to partner with that specializes in storage and can help relieve some of the problems mentioned above.  If there isn't one in your country, think about starting one.  The worlds storage isn't getting any smaller.