The Networker Blog has an excellent post on support contracts, coining the term Icarus Support Contract. Preston warns on the dangers of using a using minimal support agreements when covering equipment, and software in an environment that is covered by an SLA.
Preston defined an Icarus support contract as…
Well, it’s a contract where you rely on luck. It’s a gamble – that in the event of a serious problem, you can buy immediate assistance at the drop of a hat.
I think this is a great post, and an excellent example of why people probably need to step back, and address their support needs, and agreements. I can even cite a personal example from recently. During out data center migrations, as part of the company transition to a new parent company, the support agreement slipped on several devices. They were expired by, quite literally, a month. During that time, 2 of the devices had physical hardware failures, and required an RMA to resolve. Unfortunately because they were out of contract, it would have cost us a fortune. Fortunately enough, the vendor was good enough to work with us1, and get it sorted, they were even good enough to drop the re-up fees required on the other devices. Had we had the support contracts in place, we’d have had a device on site the next day, instead we ended up waiting nearly 2 weeks due to dealing with contracts, approvals, and signatures. Fortunately the devices were not scheduled to be deployed for another 3 months… But what were to have happened if they were live systems? I think our customers would have been rather upset about the 2 week outage.
So do you have enough of a support agreement to cover your equipment, both software and hardware, to cover your SLAs? If not, ask yourself how much it’ll cost you to get there, and if it’s worth the initial expenditure, or the cost of customer loss. If you don’t have an SLA, do your customers have an expectation of you, and your services? If so, now is the time to establish a well documented, and agreed upon, SLA, and make sure your support agreements are up to scratch to help cover the SLAs.
We do have several other devices under contract with them ↩