Help Sun Help You

I love working with customers. Over time, I learn as much from them as they learn from me. I learn their business and their business problems, they learn how Sun can be a business parter by leveraging our products, technologies and services. However, there can be challenges along the way.

There are times when I get requirements from customers which they feel are complete but I feel are incomplete. My role is to help overcome this relatively small bump in the road and get down to solving the problem. Example: A customer request comes along which has a bunch of parts on it and the they ask for a quote. Sometimes I have to come back and say, "not enough information." It is dangerous (and downright irresponsible) for me to "quote" complex configurations without understanding the bigger picture. Those of us in the field must use whatever customer skills we have to ensure that the customer understands that we don't want to be a roadblock but that we want to be a facilitator.

Here is a more detailed example, an HA (or parallel database) cluster. I can't simply send off a quote, especially when I see parts missing. Or no services. What's the business problem? Is the customer trained on our products? What are the service level requirements? Is the configuration undersized or oversized to meet SLAs? What is your backup/restore policy? Is disaster recovery a requirement? What's connecting to the database? Is the rest of the architecture also highly available? Sun cannot deliver a 5 9's solution (99.999% uptime) without understanding more about the business problem. No true partner would make assumptions in this scenario.

Our #1 goal is to deliver a high-quality supportable solution. The earlier in the design process customers involve Sun, the higher the overall quality of the solution (not to mention a faster time-to-market with greater availability). Help Sun help you.


This is of course a general requirements capture problem - I get frustrated with this issue all the time.

Sometimes I think it would be a good idea to have an "expert system" to help. Basically, an on-line system (web-based) which asks you a multiple-choice question or two at a time, with further questions depending on answers to previous answers.

For example, the first question might be "are you an existing Sun customer?". And for HA you might have questions like "If the system went down for a one hour period, this would be" and answers ranging from "minor irritant" to "people may die".

Could be useful allround, if (a) done to the right level of complexity and (b) customers actually use it.

Posted by Chris Rijk on August 10, 2004 at 02:07 AM PDT #

Hello I work for a Sun reseller for more time than there is a Sun Portugal and, I really love Sun has a tech company. And, I know that I am much more demanding from Sun than I am from any other vendor I represent. If Sun want's to help me, you can start to launch the FEHandbook of a new model \*BEFORE\* the new machine actually comes in the price list (like you always did). I am now involved in a project that consists in defining the new architecture for a Portuguese Bank. The manufacturer that wins, will be the bigest IT suplier of that bank. Because of that, I found out several java products that I never had seen before (Java Branch Control and several other for SunRays). Where is the long awaited page of ALL Sun Products with links to the Documentation? How come I waste my time arguing the advantage of a Sun Rack in the machine's availability and, then, the price of the cabinet door is more expensive that a full cabinet of your competition? How come the V210 that uses PC memory is priced at more than 2 times DELL's? Can you tell me why I can buy a Sun KVM for the V60 but, unless I buy a Grid Computing Engine, I have to buy the KVM cables from Fujitsu because YOU DON'T SELL THEM? And, finally, it's nice to tell a customer about Sun Portal and have him see that the Link to Sun Portugal goes to Sun Spain's Web Page (We've been independent since 1143, one would guess that the news had gotten to the US already). I'm sorry for using your personal weblog for this but, has a colegue presales, you should know that, sometimes, it's quite hard to do business with (for) Sun. Still I'll always be there with you, at the customers, kiking HP and IBM's butt any time technology is discussed.

Posted by Jaime Cardoso on August 16, 2004 at 07:22 AM PDT #

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John Clingan


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