Friday, February 24, 2006

Our Backups are Failing - Shoot the Messenger
- hardware and software vendor response - CYA

On Thursday afternoon I received an email requesting my presence on a conference call from a company with a back up issue. I had not heard of the company before, and I went to our engineering folks and asked if they had spoken to them. They were in the dark as much as I was. At 6:00 PM I called into the conference call and announced who I was and then just started listening. After a few minutes an engineer started reviewing his back up problem. He apologized for his accent and he outlined his infrastructure which includes a Brocade switch, NetApp R200, Veritas back up and some Linux boxes. After a few minutes the NetApp SE called in and introduced himself. And the engineer asked him some questions. It seems that Symantec and NetApp will not provide a clear certain answer as to whether his solution will work. The NetApp Engineer kept asking for the case number and the ticket number, but would make no promises as to whether he could solve their problem. His suggestion was that the customer purchase snapdrive to simplify their SAN - because no one understands SANS. The Symantec guy said that he did not have the authority to certify the solution and the engineer was saying that after 8 months he still did not have a working backup solution and their deadline was two weeks away. They wanted an engineer from NetApp on site next week to solve their problems.

The Symantec guy and the NetApp guy went quiet. So I figured it was my turn to speak. I mentioned that there was a lot of corporate CYA going on in this conference call and the issue had to be among the switch packet size, R200 drive incompatibilities, or firmware problems with their backup software. The NetApp SE wanted to know who I was. So I told them I was with Zerowait - the largest independent third party NetApp support organization. A lot of folks started asking questions and wanted to know how I got invited to the conference call so I told them which attendee I got the email from.

Boy things got interesting then, they very impolitely told me to get off their conference call. I guess Shoot the messenger was their solution. It is a pity too. I am pretty certain we could solve their problem. It sounded like a problem we ran into which was eerily similar recently, and buying more NetApp software is not going to solve the problem.

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