Sometimes stories about customer problems have happy endings.
One day after publication, the Novell ZenWorks problem that I blogged about Sept. 17 appears to be on its way to resolution. Not that resolution was speedy; the issue was the topic of numerous emails between the customer, Novell and TechTarget for three weeks.
Grant Nickle, IT director for Louisville, Ky.-based Underwriters Safety & Claims, told me in mid-August that ZenWorks 10, a configuration management application, had many improvements over its predecessor but contained a key flaw: It wouldn’t retain user identities and settings in the cache after a user signed off or was no longer on the network. The omission is critical for an IT department that manages hundreds of desktops because there is no other way to preserve user identities except through Microsoft Active Directory. Making matters worse, Nickle never got a promised call from tech support.
Yesterday afternoon, however, Nickle spoke directly with the product manager, who assured Nickle that the full functionality of the Dynamic Local User, which used to remember each user’s desktop settings and files, would be restored prior to Novell’s next Brainshare user conference in March. And Nickle has the product manager’s name and phone number to make sure he keeps his promise. In the meantime, Nickle will have to rely on ZenWorks 7, which doesn’t work with Microsoft Vista, but at least he knows he’s got a finite time to wait for a fix.
Actually, Nickle did Novell a favor by bringing a problem, which others in the user forum have complained about as well, to its attention. Kudos to Novell for recognizing and addressing the issue. Nevertheless, a nagging suspicion remains that it’s not as easy for an average user to bring a real problem to a software company’s attention as it should be. And that’s something all software companies should be striving aggressively to remedy. Just like nurses and physicians who need to be alert to minor symptoms of potentially major illnesses, there ought to be a way for software companies to flag a complaint that points to a serious problem and direct it out of normal channels to someone who can assess and remedy the issue. In the meantime, though, I’m celebrating Nickle’s victory. Novell listened and acted. And that’s a victory for us all.