Home > Uncategorized > How did your vendor respond in a disaster situation?

How did your vendor respond in a disaster situation?

Have you ever had a major systems failure that could be classified as a disaster or near-disaster?  How did your vendor(s) of the failed systems respond?  Did they own up to it?  Obfuscate?  Lay blame elsewhere?  Help in the recovery?

Back in the fall of 2007, we had an “event” with our primary storage array.  I remember it as though it occurred yesterday.  I was coming home from vacation and had just disembarked from the airplane when I received a call from one of our engineers.  The engineer was very low-key and said that I might want to check in with our storage guys because of some problem they were having.  “Some problem” turned out to be a complete array failure.

I went home, took a shower, and then went to the office.  First thing I saw was the vendor field engineer standing near the array looking very bored.  A quick conversation ensued in which he told me he was having trouble getting support from his own people.  Uh-oh.

A few minutes later I found our storage folks in an office talking about various next steps.  I was given some background info.  The array had been down for over five hours, no one knew the cause of the failure, no one knew the extent of the failure, and no one had filled in our CIO on the details.  As far as she knew, the vendor was fixing the problem and things were going to be peachy again.

At this point, alarm bells should have been going off in everyone’s head.  I tracked down the vendor engineer and gave him a hard deadline to get the array fixed.  I also started prepping, with the help of our storage team,  for massive recovery efforts.  The deadline came and the vendor was no further along so I woke up my manager and told her to wake up the CIO to declare a disaster.

Along comes daylight and we still haven’t made any progress on fixing the downed array, but we have started tape restoration to a different array.   A disaster is declared.  Teams are put together to determine the scope of impact, options for recovering, customer communications, etc..  We also called in our array sales rep, his support folks, 2nd/3rd level vendor tech support, and more.

So here we are all in a room trying to figure out what happened and what to do next.  3rd level vendor support is in another part of the country.  He doesn’t know what’s been discussed so he tells us what happened.  Unfortunately this was not the party line.  Vendor would like to blame the problem on something different; something that was supposedly fixed in a firmware update that we hadn’t yet applied (thus the finger-pointing begins).  Not a bright idea since we had the white paper on that particular error and we were nowhere close to hitting the trigger point.  Months later this so-called fixed problem was corrected, again, in another firmware release.

To make matters worse, while discussing recovery options one of the vendor’s local managers said..and I quote..”It’s not our problem”.   Wow!!!  Our primary storage provider just told us that his products failure was not his problem.  Yes, we bought mid-range equipment so we knew we weren’t buying 5 nines or better.  Still, to say that it’s our fault and to tell us that we should have bought the high-end, seven-figure system was a bit much.

We recovered about 70%  of the data to another array within 36 hours and then ran into a bad tape problem.  The remaining 30% took about two weeks to get.  Needless to say, we learned a lot.  Our DR processes weren’t up to snuff, our backup processes weren’t up to snuff, and our choice of vendor wasn’t up to snuff.  We are in the process of correcting all three deficiencies.

Back to my opening paragraph, how have your vendors treated you in a disaster?

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Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,
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  1. October 27, 2010 at 10:20 am

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