Calls to vendors for tech support shouldn’t be delayed
Even the most reliable systems experience problems that can be crippling. Of course, when the system goes down, it can cause catastrophic results to the organization.
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Even the most reliable systems experience problems that can be crippling. Of course, when the system goes down, it can cause catastrophic results to the organization. Often, systems outages last longer than necessary for the simple reason that a call for help is not put out promptly and correctly.
While some in Hawaii attribute this to an “island” mentality, the fact of the matter is that this phenomenon occurs across the country. Sure, back in the day, it was often difficult to find an expert during Hawaii Standard Time working hours and we often felt like we were on our own. Nowadays, however, virtually all large vendors, such as Microsoft, Oracle, IBM and the like, have support desks around the world. Smaller vendors also typically have some type of structure to provide support on a 24/7 basis.
But let’s back up a bit. Organizations large and small must be prepared for debilitating failures. This means assessing your technical environment and identifying those components that, if they went down, would cause your operation to cease. Such components could be hardware or software, such as a server, storage array, or database. Then, examine what type of support contract is available from the vendor.
In some cases, the vendor may not be able to provide around-the-clock support, which is an entirely different can of worms. But for the most part, midsize to major vendors all have some type of extended support available. Some vendors provide ala carte support, where one can pay a fee, usually a few hundred dollars, per call.
When calling for support, most everyone uses a three-tier system, cleverly called Sev (short for severity) 1, Sev 2, and Sev 3. Sev 1 is when you are experiencing the most severe type of issue; one which causes a complete system outage and disrupts the operation of your organization. Under Sev 2, systems are not functioning normally but organizational operations can continue, perhaps implementing workarounds. Sev 3 means that systems are not functioning normally, but organization operations are not hindered … yet.
Under Sev 1, vendors will typically dedicate a highly skilled engineer(s) to work through the problem 24/7, until it is complete. Handoffs may occur if an engineer is approaching the end of his/her shift, so it is not unusual to start out with an engineer based in Asia, who then hands it off to an engineer based in Europe.
While many folks try to trick the support desk into classifying the issue as a Sev 1, the vendor is usually pretty good at sniffing this out. Conversely, most vendors are pretty liberal about classifying a problem as Sev 1. If you want to declare a Sev 1, be prepared to back up that declaration with a description of how your business operations have come to a halt.
Some are wary of calling for support when they have customizations in the environment, for example, a homegrown database. Don’t let this stop you. Most support desks are used to this type of issue, and often can help even with custom environments.
John Agsalud is an IT expert with more than 25 years of information technology experience in Hawaii and around the world. He can be reached at email@example.com.