Ease of adoption is a critical but often overlooked success factor. We defined technology operations as one of our six themes specifically to elevate ease of use and management support into strategy and marketing discussions. Operational considerations are just as important in our upcoming storage hypervisors study, and regular readers will be familiar with our support profiles series. This week we had the opportunity to discuss support and services with Nick Broadbent, Vice President of Customer Services at DataCore. Our previous analysis highlighted how SANsymphony has evolved with use cases ranging from commodity arrays to highly sophisticated QOS array types, so we were keen to understand how DataCore scales its services capability to serve a widening spectrum of customers.

DataCore includes support, training and professional services within the remit of its Customer Services mandate. Consistent with its indirect sales strategy through channel partners, dataCore encourages customers to seek support through authorised support partners, who are in turn backed by DataCore’s technical team. Likewise, professional services that include analysis, design, installation, upgrade, scripting and deployment are available through partners, and if customers insist, directly from DataCore.

Much of our discussion centred around the company’s approach to training. DataCore offers classroom training for partners and customers that leads to certification. This 3-day module also includes test, and a practical element with assessment of proficiency via a complete implementation simulation. Once certified, these experts are encouraged to stay up-to-date through online courses and knowledge library updates. DataCore has been carefully analysing case notes from its support and professional services engagements to identify areas that need additional attention. Over time, this effort has led to a large library of templates and scripts to help automate common tasks during installation and migration.

Storage hypervisor architecture today is selected by customers who are reasonably mature in their approach and expectations. DataCore has found these customers to be especially successful in exploiting their investments when they have also been through the training it provides. Awareness drives better use cases, and encourages more effective communications between customers, partners and DataCore. The company’s investments in enabling its partners is reminiscent of systems vendors’ approach before it became fashionable to pursue services as a business in its own right.

Looking ahead, DataCore expects to continue its investments in training curriculum, templates, online delivery channels and localisation for its partners and customers in smaller countries. It expects to broaden the number of courses as early adopters of its technology now expand their ambitions beyond the storage infrastructure and start reaching out to embrace applications performance and usability metrics.

Image credit: Edinburgh Windows by KB

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