TechPublishing Now MS Certified

TechPublishing Now MS Certified
Professor Robert McMillen, MBA Microsoft Certified Trainer and Solutions Expert

Thursday, September 4, 2014

IBM support the same as jumbo shrimp?

I had quite the week with IBM support. We buy and sell a lot of IBM servers and SAN (storage) devices.
A year ago we bought a v3700 SAN and had a question about how long it would take to format a RAID 5 partition. We called IBM support and they said we didn't have the right support agreement for us to talk to them.
What? It was brand new.

This time when we bought one of the new 2.5" drive units we made sure we had both the hardware and software support so we could ask questions.

Last Friday I went to set up the new device. It's all web based configuration now. No more Storage Manager.
I had a book of directions and videos that came with the device built into the web browser. Very slick and it should make setting it up very easy.

The first thing I noticed was that, although I had ten drives, I could only use five at a time to configure a RAID 5 volume.

If I made a RAID 6 volume I could use all ten drives, but it makes the last drive a spare. I wanted to use RAID 5, but oh well.

Although the device comes with the ability to connect using both ISCSI and SAS, I decided I wanted to go with ISCSI so I had the flexibility of more easily adding more servers to have access to future partitions without adding SAS cards or running out of ports.

I have configured many of these devices so it wasn't unfamiliar to me to run through the setup steps using the USB method or creating an answer file and plugging it into the v3700 USB port to upload the config. This is actually a fairly nice way to set it up without needing a management cable as the older units needed when you couldn't connect to them using the manager software.

The problem was that the ISCSI ports always showed up as offline even though I could ping the server IPs and the SAN IPs in both directions.

I decided I would call IBM since we had paid $4k for the required 24/7 4 hour response package.
I soon received a call back after opening the ticket from the level 1 technician located in some foreign country. I have no problem with this if they are knowledgeable, and I can understand them clearly.
The tech went over the settings with me and we did make some changes but it didn't make any difference. He then questioned my ability to set up one of these devices.

At 5PM my time he stopped returning my calls in between checking the logs I uploaded to him. I didn't hear from him again until Tuesday morning.
By this time I was irate and he said he would escalate to level 2. By Tuesday afternoon I still had not received a call so I called them back and demanded someone onsite to come and fix this.
IBM support said they would have someone out before 5 PM. 

That time came and went, and no technician. He did contact me and said he would be out 24 hours later, and then told me he wouldn't know how to fix it even if he did come out because he just swaps out bad parts.

He did say he would call me again Wednesday AM. That call never happened.

More irate phone calls by me got a call finally from a level 2 tech who questioned my ability to even configure one of these devices and said he was East coast time and he wanted to go home rather than speak with me. He asked if we could talk the next day and we didn't have the right support package but he would do me a favor and speak with me then. Of course we did have the right package, but IBM never registered it.
Today I decided to shut myself off from the rest of the office and see if I could just fix it myself.
After about 3 hours of combing websites and Red Books from IBM I finally had the answer. The directions were wrong.

Instead of inputting the IP address into the ISCSI port box, I needed to put the ISCSI ID (iqn number) into it. This was contrary to the video, the way I have done it in the past, and the printed instructions that came with the device, but I tried it and it worked.
I finally had my ISCSI storage connecting to my servers.
IBM called again later that today to see if I was happy with their support and one of my staff told them "no", and that I had to fix it myself. They then sent me an email and asked me how I did it.

They wanted to update their bad instructions.
I told them I would have to charge them for my time since I paid them $4K for support, which I never adequately received after 7 days.

They haven't emailed me back.