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Re: AYT? Support network, anyone up to?


On Fri, 10 Apr 1998, George Bonser wrote:

> Our company (Capital Technologies Integration) is more along the lines of
> the second type where we can maintain Oracle, ClearCase, set up and
> maintain an NT, HP-UX, or Solaris shop and we do quick "in and out"
> projects too.  I am going to try to convince out management to offer some

Our company fits into this category as well . . . most of our clients
are "ongoing" support and whole-hearted outsourcing.  We do quite a bit
of OS support (including Linux), but also serve as technical guides for
these companies as well . . .  

> The thing is, when a company looks at putting in a Linux server, they are
> going to worry about support.  They do NOT want to hear about mailing
> lists and newsgroups or finding consultants from a list on a web page.
> They want to know what local consulting COMPANY will support it in many
> cases. THey want to pick up the telephone and have someone on-site that
> day fixing the problem.  I am talking about companies that normally buy
> support contracts for their systems. I intend to convince management that
> we can, in a limited number of circumstances, provide linux solutions and
> support them. 

Exactly.  Currently, in our area (Washington DC Metro), we are the only
company offering onsite contracts and support for Linux (that I know of
- -- apologies to anyone else out there, let me know who you are).  Our 
clients call us precisely because mailing lists, web pages, IRC, and
exhaustive reading are NOT what they are interested in.  We want to
be involved in this project, but have several concerns --  mostly with
rates.  Some of our contracts require that the rates we charge be 
competitive and/or listed when we get other bids (US Government for
example).  If the rate structure for the list is too rigid, then we
will not be able to help as we cannot afford to drop our rates.  And,
from what I've seen on the Debian website and in the Consultants HOWTO,
we are getting higher rates than most for Linux consulting.

> We also need to develop a network of Debian consultants here.  The site
> where I am working today has facillities in Asia and Europe as well as
> North America. If I put together a mail server for their Malaysia
> facillity, would I be able to locate someone there that knows debian if it
> has trouble? The customer is going to call me, I will do what I can but if
> the system failed an fsck and is sitting in single-user mode waiting for
> console input, someone is going to have to physically go into that
> computer room and fix it or send the entire system back here.  They do not
> have that trouble with their NT or Solaris systems. They can find vendor
> support locally. Can we turn this into a world-wide "vendor support"
> network?

We do have some international alliances (IBM is a big one and has been
very supportive in our Linux efforts) who can perform these sorts of 
miracles, but I do share many of the same concerns.  Likewise, we are
worried about "ownership" and "culpability" for projects.  If I contract
someone off the new list to help with one of our clients in, say, Brazil
(seems to be a popular country for examples in this thread), then what
sort of contractual guarantees for time, reliability, quality control,
response, etc. am I to get from the list.  And, to be fair, if I commit
our people to the list as well, what are other clients and consultants to
be guaranteed by my people.

Basically, I think that the idea is a great one.  It will help grow Linux
(and the best distribution of it ;-) ) into the future and could become
lucrative for the consulting firms and independent consultants involved.
However, I must concur with the opinions that claim that the corporate world
(who have been using Linux for some time, but just now realized they
need to SUPPORT it) is not going to be so happy with a "list".  They want
people with names and faces, and when their nameserver is down or
finance can't map their L: drives, they want their problems solved, onsite,
and immediately.

S. Ryan Quick
Systems/Network Security Engineer
Phaedo Consulting, Inc.

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