When considering virtualization software – or any software as an integrated part of your IT setup – professional, comprehensive and reliable support is a very important part of your purchasing decision. It may be of more importance in the early stages as you become familiarized with a new software package, but even further down the line support is likely to be vital.
Users of specific software such as graphics professionals know the value of reliable vendor support, so if your entire setup depends on software running efficiently to do its job as a virtual environment does then effective support will be a major part of your purchasing decision.
Before you buy
A vendor’s quality of service can often be demonstrated during the purchasing process when you’re evaluating virtualization software packages. Does the vendor offer the chance to ‘test drive’ their software in a no-obligation, supported phase?
This is where you can try the software ideally with vendor support to see how it integrates with your existing resources. Your future IT function may be founded on a new software setup so it’s important it is proven to work effectively in your environment and you feel comfortable working with it on a daily basis.
For example, StorMagic offer pre-sales support in the form of a demonstration and full backup during the evaluation period of their virtual storage solution, SvSAN.
Vendors should offer a selection of support options so you can select the one that is most appropriate for your requirements.
Look for the following basics:
Is there a help desk?
How often is it manned?
Is there a 24 hour option?
Are there costs applied to some or all of the levels of support?
Does support include advice and help on how to get the best out of the system?
Are there limits to how many support request can be made?
Is there disaster recovery assistance?
Establish how upgrades and interim patches are handled. Is this part of the overall package? Perhaps free patches and maybe upgrades apply during the license period, or maybe they are payable – or maybe patches are free but full upgrades are at extra cost?
Is there free support and tuition when a significant patch or upgrade is released?
Seeking existing user references is worthwhile. The vendor may offer some which is fine but bear in mind they may be ‘tame’ clients – the vendor knows they are fully satisfied with the product. If possible, do your own research on existing users.
In particular, their feedback on how upgrades and patches are handled by the vendor can prove invaluable. Sometimes upgrades and patches can be a problem as releases are made without adequate testing and users end up doing the ‘bedding in’ for the vendor.
How does the vendor communicate with you when it comes to support? Ideally, there should be various options so suit you such as email, phone and live chat.
Is there some sort of online support resource on the vendor’s website with support tools and knowledge base-type articles and advice? Is there a charge for access such as a subscription option or is it part of the support package?