It is an axiom of the IT business that all the scary stuff we do seems to happen on nights, holidays, and weekends. Through custom and habit, our data center migrations, software upgrades, hardware upgrades, and just about anything else nerve-wracking and transformation-related never seems to take place during normal working daylight hours.
The problem with this from a vendor support viewpoint is that nights, weekends, and holidays are usually the time when the very senior and specialized technical support engineers are also most likely to not be working to support you. We have a built-in mismatch here of needs vs. resources, and all at a sensitive time when a customer is most vulnerable. Though off-hours IT upgrade and migration activities are chosen precisely to give the folks involved more time to recover if something does go wrong, it can sometimes mean it also takes longer to get specialized vendor support to the rescue, especially if the vendor is starting cold and was unaware of the existence of the evolution in the first place.
Most homeowners know not to do any serious digging on their property without first notifying their utility provider, and the same rule applies for involved off-hours IT events. At VMware, we have various ways for you to notify us if you are having a transformational event during off-hours. The best way to notify us depends on what level of service desk support you signed up for at VMware.
For Premier Services customers who have signed up for either our Mission Critical Support (MCS) or Business Critical Support (BCS), the process is easy. Sign into your account in the MyVmware portal and navigate to the “Get Support” sub-menu under the Support tab. Proceed to select your product and technical issue and when you get to the Support Request (SR) ticket creation page, select “Proactive SR” in the Issue Category pulldown window, as seen in the screenshot below:
Proceed to populate all fields and put your additional information in the notes, and finish creating your ticket in the normal manner. Big hint: There is no such thing as too much detail. Especially important is to tell us any older technologies or older versions of VMware products that may be involved in your event. By definition, these older products aren’t as well known among our newer and more junior support engineers. A proactive ticket allows us to possibly alert and place on standby an engineer that has that specific specialty or background for that period of availability, if needed. Also important is to tell us when your event begins, and when is the latest time it is planned to end. Although your event might power-through without sleep all weekend, we will staff your needed support in a more conventional manner and knowing your timeframes allows us to plan good shift management and always have fresh engineers available on our end.
If you are not a MCS or BCS customer, but have a TAM assigned to your account, an additional method to alert us is to file a ticket and then contact your TAM. In this instance, you will not have a “Proactive SR” menu option, but you can still fill out your Support Request in the normal manner, explaining what you are planning to do, and once you have a ticket number, contact your TAM. Your VMware TAM is not a direct member or representative of the VMware service desk team, but has the experience to review your ticket and the ability to make sure the appropriate folks receive it and that correct attention is drawn to your situation.
If you are neither a Premier Services customer nor a TAM customer but want to be, contact your VMware Account Executive for details on how to become one. However, even this class of customer can still file a ticket in the normal manner, annotate it as a “heads-up” ticket in the notes, list the full details, and then note the resulting SR number. Later, during the off-hours event, if you run into trouble and need assistance, you can call into VMware and cite that ticket number, and this will greatly speed the assembly of proper resources on our end to assist your situation.
You already know if you dig in your backyard without notifying your local utility providers that you might create a service outage that lasts for days. We all know this can happen in the world of IT on nights, weekends, and holidays during your very next transformation event – when hardly anyone is around.
So, call us before you dig.
Tim Aines has over 30 years of experience in business and government, most recently working as Director of Transformation Operations in the IT Shared Services. He is currently a Senior VMware Technical Account Manager.