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How to Simplify Datacenter Support for a Multivendor Environment

John_Gunther

“Datacenters on wheels” – I’m seeing that phrase used in more and more articles to describe the cars coming off of the assembly lines these days.1 The context is usually the explosion of data-crunching capabilities, connectivity, and sensors in today’s automobiles and the “drive” (ha!) towards autonomous vehicles. It’s a striking analogy, but to me cars have always been datacenter-like, in the sense that they’re complex, information-dense assemblies of hardware, much of it originating from different independent manufacturers. The big difference, and it’s one we can all be thankful for, is that when something goes wrong with your car you can usually take it to one specialist – your dealer or mechanic – to get it fixed. You don’t have to go back to the suppliers of all those components and work through the warranties, contracts, SLAs, and all the rest of it to solve your problem.

Double-edged sword: when 'multi' becomes too many

Anyone who’s worked in data center support, and I’m definitely including myself here, knows what a long-winded, frustrating experience it can be when you need something fixed fast and you have to work through multiple vendors to get there. It's not that their commitment to customer service is lacking, or that they’re eager pass the buck to each other (the infamous “finger-pointing” issue). They can have the best customer service intentions in the world, but they each have different processes, different personnel, different business policies. And because each one is providing only a part of the whole, none has complete visibility into the environment you’re running.HPE20180313061_800_0_72_RGB.jpg

 Figuring out which vendor’s gear is causing the issue can be a challenge, but once you’ve got a rough idea where the problem lies things can get really time-consuming, really fast. “Now let’s see, what was the website to log a call with that vendor? What was the 800 number for that vendor?” When you get a call through, you might hear “Oh, that's not the problem, you need to call this other department.” You can end up going down a long list of phone numbers. And when you finally get through to the right person: "Oh, you only have next-business-day coverage. We'll be out on Thursday."

Simplified support across the vendor multiverse

It’s hard to find time for all this, especially when IT is being asked to turn out new services on a continuous basis, in days rather than weeks or months. Companies are looking for ways to simplify the support experience for their heterogeneous environments, and they’re finding it in HPE Datacenter Care for Multivendor, a natural extension of our Datacenter Care Service.

I often describe our multivendor care service as a “just-like-HPE” experience; you get the same caliber of support that you get for your HPE equipment with Datacenter Care, but it’s extended to your entire environment. It’s not just break/fix; we provide proactive support and monitoring. We manage the equipment, keep track of the revision levels, keep you up to speed on the latest concerns about a given platform. And, crucially, we understand the interoperability issues. Regardless of where an issue crops up, we know which parts of your infrastructure are involved and how they interplay with the other elements of the environment.

The core of the service is your HPE assigned account support team, which works with you to understand your business and IT objectives. Whoever takes a support call on the team owns the issue and takes it to closure. But they don't have to do that on their own. They're able to tap into the vast resources HPE’s centers of expertise, as well as other vendors as needed. So you get all the benefits of personalized, relationship-based support via a single point of contact, backed by HPE’s global knowledge network.

That deep expertise enables us to offer tremendous flexibility. I worked with a customer recently that bought one of our high-performance computing systems, but because of the nature of their site location, they decided that they really needed water-cooled doors and a special uninterruptible power unit. We were able to put together a total support solution covering the doors from one vendor and the power unit from another. In terms of support, it all basically comes out as a single solution for the customer.

Supporting what’s next

 HPE20180313047_800_0_72_RGB.jpgAnother big bonus is that your account support team can provide valuable strategic input on long-term changes. I like how Colin Miles put it – he’s IT Director of Technical Services with British digital media provider Virgin Media: “This is the real value-add and the area we’d like to see more of from HPE in the future. Yes, we want to improve daily service availability, but we also want to understand where next to take our systems. HPE can help us be more proactive in terms of how we evolve.” (Read how HPE multivendor support helped Virgin Media cut costs, improve accountability and drive service availability here.)

We may still be a long way from truly autonomous cars, and even further from autonomous data centers (whatever those would look like!) But at least with HPE Datacenter Care for Multivendor, running a complex, heterogeneous environment doesn’t have to mean settling for complex, heterogenous support.

Get started with HPE Pointnext Operational Support Services today. 

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  1. This article from test equipment firm Tektronix is a good example: After 130 years, computing power replaces horsepower
About the Author

John_Gunther

HPE Pointnext Multivendor Portfolio Manager: John has spent more than 10 years developing support services to assist customers with the regular operation, maintenance, and management of their IT environments. Prior to involvement with HPE Multivendor Services, he was a Business Management and Planning Manager for the Customer Support Center team.

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