Virtualization Pro

Jul 31 2009   2:06PM GMT

Good experiences with vSphere 4.0, vShield Zones VMware support

Eric Siebert Eric Siebert Profile: Eric Siebert

Support and customer service are two areas that will make or break any company. Providing good support and customer service will ensure that a business keeps is customers satisfied so they continue to use the company’s product and do not consider switching to a competitor’s product.

Since I have recently had several good experiences with VMware support I thought I would pass them along as I feel VMware is doing a good job in this area. I haven’t used VMware support in years; previously I’ve had bad experiences with using Hewlett-Packard for technical support for VMware product issues, but we’ve recently switched to using VMware directly for our support instead of HP. So when I ran into several issues when testing the new vShield Zones product I thought I would give VMware support a try again and see what kind of experience I would have.

VMware vSphere 4.0 licensing

My first support issue was with vSphere licensing. I tried VMware’s online licensing support. My problem was that I was not seeing my Enterprise Plus licenses when logging in with my VMware account on VMware’s website. I could see my vCenter Server and vSphere licenses but not my Enterprise Plus licenses, which I suspect were showing on another VMware account that was created by the person who does the license renewals for us.

I was able to quickly connect to an online support person and explain my problem to them, they checked their systems and within minutes they fixed it so the Enterprise Plus licenses were showing under my VMware account also. Having previously used the online licensing support and not having good experiences with it I was pleasantly surprised to have my problem quickly resolved this time.

Installing vShield Zones

My next issue was with installing vShield Zones. I would continually receive an error message when trying to deploy the vShield agents that my hosts were not licensed for vShield Zones even though they had the correct licenses. I tried everything I could think of, including reinstalling the product, restarting hosts and reinstalling the licenses to no avail. When I opened a case with VMware support the support tech I spoke with did not have a lot of experience with the vShield Zones product, which is understandable as it is new product and not widely used yet.

We tried a few things via a WebEx session but were still receiving the error message, so the support tech said he would do some research and get back to me. While troubleshooting the problem on my own I came across a thread in the VMTN forums where someone had the same problem but the suggestions in the thread didn’t work for me.

One of the thread responders was a VMware employee that was involved with the development of the vShield Zones product, so I sent him an email with my case number and some additional information and I was surprised to quickly receive a reply back with a request to do a WebEx session with him so he could see the problem and assist in resolving it. He also gave me a call and involved several other folks from their engineering group and we were able to resolve the problem fairly quickly. I felt this was fabulous customer support as VMware’s product engineers were willing to work directly with a customer to resolve a problem with a new product. I felt great comfort in knowing my problem would be resolved because I was dealing directly with the people who developed the product — and if they could not help me resolve the problem, nobody could!

Room for improvement

While both these experiences were good, the one thing I think VMware could improve upon with its support process is in opening a new support case with them. It’s fairly straightforward but I had difficulty each time dealing with the representatives that open the cases and assign them a case number. Each person I spoke to seemed to be a non-native English language speaker, presumably because VMware uses call centers that are outsourced overseas. I’m usually OK with this but in this case the person had difficulty understanding me and did not seem to know many virtualization specific terms or product names. I had to talk very slowly, repeat myself several times and spell words so they were able to record the information for the case. After I received a case number I was sent off to an automated system that wanted me to select the area that my problem was in (i.e. networking, installation, etc.). I felt this was an unnecessary step and should have been handled when I spoke to the person who opened the case for me. Once I selected the problem area I waited on hold until a support tech came on the line to begin troubleshooting the problem with me.

I’ve always said that if you have competition you better have a good product offering, good pricing and good support to keep your customers from going to your competition. If you don’t have competition you can get away with providing bad support as customers have no choice but to use your product. Bad support, high pricing and mediocre products has led me to switch phone/cable/internet providers several times in the past as there are many competitors in those areas, unlike the power company I use which has no competition. It’s good to see VMware is providing its customers with good support as this is a critical area where VMware needs to retain customers.

Have you had good or bad experience with VMware support? Let us know in the comments.

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