> Could anyone give me opinions / reasons for and against IBM hardware
> support?

> Debra Helms
> Senior Technical Analyst
> Lance, Inc.


Let me tell you a story from about 11-12 years ago.  We were migrating from
the S/38 to the AS/400.  (We had about 20 clients to move in our timeshare
operation on multiple systems.)  Upper management - whom I had the utmost
respect for, both being former IBMers before they started the company in
1969 - decided that we could save a LOT of money by switching our S/38
support to another company.  This new vendor was very well known and we had
done business with other divisions and were happy.  And after all, we were
only going to have the S/38 for about another 6 months.  We tempted fate and
lost.  A drive crashed (we didn't have mirroring).  A tech came out to work
on it.  Somehow, this idiot managed to crash a second drive!  So another
tech comes out to help him.  They can't get the new drives working.  Finally
they flew someone in from St. Louis who was able to get things going.  The
end result was that we did save money, but about 14 small hospitals were
without their patient accounting system for an extra 24 hours.
Additionally, it was our main system, so we could not serve our other
clients as well.  We lost a lot of face with those clients.

The AS/400 today is _much_ easier to work on than the S/38 was in 1989.  So
I would think that you would have less of a chance of a fiasco like what I
just described.  But I would ask the following questions of the potential
vendors and then ask yourselves if you feel comfortable enough with them.
I.e., how bad of a situation can you experience and still be happy with your
choice?  And then, what are the chances of that happening with this new
vendor?  IMHO, IBM is still the best.

1.  How are their techs trained?  How does this compare to IBM's CE's?
2.  How many techs do they have within 30 minutes / 1 hour / 1.5 hours of
your office?
3.  Where are their nearest warehouses located?
4.  Get a list of feature codes that they stock at these warehouses and
compare it to what is on your system (WRKHDWRSC).  I.e. make sure they are
not going to have to order a part from IBM if something fails in your
5.  Get a copy of their Service Level Agreement (SLA).  What committments do
they make to you regarding response time?  Regarding having parts in stock?
What penalties do they provide for if they do not meet these committments?
IMV, a SLA w/o penalties is like a politician's promise - they say they'll
do it, but all they are putting at risk if they do not perform is not
getting your vote when their term (or contract) is up.

Good luck.

Chuck Morehead
Nokuse Consulting - Providing high value Information Technology Services.
Native Bear Software - Providing affordable Industry Specific Software.

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