Moving Towards Integrated Support

by Ivor Soans    May 06, 2005

One of the key highlights of ‘Architecture of the Future’ the joint event by and Ziff-Davis Media held recently in Mumbai, was the fact that four leading technology players were willing to publicly commit that they would support each other’s solutions.

So, Dell promised that customers could call their support engineers even for faults that were at the kernel-level in Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and so on. Understandably, CIOs took this claim with a large pinch of salt and grilled the vendor executives present on what they initially saw as a tall claim. Thankfully, Dell seemed to have convinced them, because many of the CIOs and CTOs I met after the event mentioned this as a key positive factor that they experienced at the event.

This column isn’t about lauding the four technology players who partnered with us for ‘Architecture of the Future,’ but to highlight an issue that many Enterprise IT Heads feel strongly about.

We live in an era of integrated solutions. However, as enterprises often discover, integrated solutions are often restricted to sales pitches alone. Once rolled out problems start cropping up and the disparate vendors start passing the buck, each blaming bugs or faults in the others’ solution.

It isn’t long before customers experience the results of such disastrous implementations and with competition bringing in a high degree of customer consciousness, soon enough the CEO is pressing the Eject button under the CIO’s seat.

Even precautions like going in for standardized solutions don’t help always.

The only solution to this problem is for vendors to actually start supporting other components of an integrated solution by delivering a guarantee that the support center that receives the problem will provide the solution, without bouncing the issue around or passing the buck.

Obviously, this isn’t going to be easy. Such levels of support require strong third-party software skills–in fact, the hardware player would have to be as strong in software support as the software player’s own engineers.

But tough isn’t impossible either. As the players at ‘The Architecture of the Future’ proved, cross-vendor support is possible, and even more importantly could provide a powerful positive differentiator for CIOs and CTOs when it comes to technology buying decisions.