Posted on June 5th, 2009 No comments
A week ago Calyptix send a note out to it’s partners explaining it new support policy. Well due to some gross misinterpretations the partner community was up in arms. Even at my Triad SBS Group meeting earlier this week, poor Terry who was there presenting on an entirely different product was verbally brow-beaten.
In an effort to better explain their intent and do away with the misinterpretations, today Calyptix released the following note. I think the Calyptix Partner Community will have a much better weekend than they did last week. hopfully my freind Terry will be able to heal :>)
Copy of note starts here:
I apologize ahead of time for the length of this email, but I want to make sure I cover as much information as possible to help facilitate a dialogue on our new support policy.
Since we announced our new Support policy last week we have received a lot of questions regarding specific support situations and whether they will incur a charge or not. I wanted to try to answer some of the more frequently asked questions to help clarify things for you. I also want to expand a bit on “Why” we are modifying our policy.
Here are some general questions and answers:
Question 1 – Do Partners get charged immediately if we call Calyptix Support?
If you call Calyptix Support, our team will first find out what the problem is, work on identifying the root cause, and determine whether it is an AccessEnforcer related problem or not. If it is an AccessEnforcer related problem, then we are going to fix it and you do not incur a charge.
Question 2 – A 24 hour response time for email support is too long. Will Calyptix really take 24 hours to respond to email questions?
We have the most support resources during US Eastern time zone business hours, so we will be able to respond to emails faster during that time than during afterhours. That’s why the “24 hours” is there. We will still respond as quickly as possible. We have identified 8am to 8pm Eastern time as “Business Hours” so we can take into account the time differences between East and West coast. Someone emailed us one time after 8pm Eastern and was upset that no one had responded by 8am which was several hours later. If a partner is having an emergency after hours, calling the support line will receive the quickest response. NOTE: If you call the support line and get voicemail, it means the Engineer is on the line with an existing issue. Please leave a message and it will generate an email alert to the team as well as put you into the queue. You will be called back as soon as possible.
Question 3 – Do I have to purchase an installation package?
Answer: No, it’s not required.
If you have already purchased and installed one or more AccessEnforcers and you have completed our free training, you are probably comfortable enough to handle whatever scenario arises. We have found that there are many very simple networks that Partners need little to no help with. On the other hand, we have also assisted with numerous setups in complex networks that take a lot of time to figure out. We must implement a structure that will help us prioritize where we focus our efforts. It’s completely up to you and your customer whether you purchase the installation package or not. For less than the price of two support tickets, you get unlimited support and training for 30 days on any AccessEnforcer.
Question 4 – What does the yearly renewal pay for if support is not part of it?
Answer – AccessEnforcer calls home every night to receive updates on security rule sets, firmware and OS updates, bug fixes, and new features/functionality. Our development team must constantly keep up with the changing landscape of network security, and we must always keep AccessEnforcer updated with the latest tools to prevent attacks. It also goes towards operational upgrades such as automating the order process, and helping grow our resources outside of development and support.
Question 5 – What will constitute a charge?
Answer: This will differ significantly on a case-by-case basis, but after speaking with our development and support team, I can offer a few examples of what generally will (and will NOT) constitute a charge:
1. Partner calls Calyptix with an issue regarding DNS. Calyptix Support confirms the problem is not being caused by the AccessEnforcer, it’s actually an issue with the customer’s DNS server. We do not charge for that assessment. If the Partner asks us for help with fixing the DNS server, we will charge for that support.
2. Partner calls Calyptix with an issue accessing internal websites from inside their network. Calyptix Support confirms the problem is not related to the AccessEnforcer, but Partner wants further assistance fixing the problem. We would not charge for the assessment, but if we provide support beyond that then it will incur a charge.
3. Partner sends an email to Calyptix Support wanting to know how to configure AccessEnforcer to use SMTP on port 587. Calyptix Support provides the information, and the Partner correctly configures the port forwarding rule and applies the change but is still having problems. Calyptix Support confirms that port forwarding is configured correctly, and the problem must be the Exchange server. There is no charge for everything up to that point, but if Calyptix Support must dig into the Exchange server to figure out the issue a charge would be incurred.
Please keep in mind these are a few general examples. There are unlimited scenarios, but generally speaking if the problem involves the AccessEnforcer then charges will not be incurred. The key is the Calyptix Support team will make the assessment and will let you know whether something will incur a charge or not.
More on “Why”
Here are a few things we have done in the past year in support of our Partners that will give a glimpse into “why” we must put together a framework to charge in certain situations:
1. Helped partners fend off extremely nasty spam attacks (beyond the scope of AccessEnforcer).
2. Helped partners set up an IPSec VPN between two non-AccessEnforcer devices.
3. Helped partners set up many IPSec VPNs between AccessEnforcer and non-AccessEnforcer devices, because the partner was lacking knowledge of the non-AccessEnforcer device to handle it themselves.
4. Helped MANY partners do advanced troubleshooting involving packet capturing and identifying the root cause of many server and network issues, most of which are not AccessEnforcer-related.
5. Helped partners resolve urgent situations where the partner was not at a location where they could log in to their client’s AccessEnforcer. In those situations, the support team has logged into the client’s AccessEnforcer on the partner’s behalf to help identify and resolve urgent issues.
6. Recently a Partner was installing the AccessEnforcer at a site with a VoIP phone system that needed the router to support “DHCP options.” This was not a feature that the AccessEnforcer had at that time. (Note: this is different than the AccessEnforcer being able to act as a DHCP server, which we do.) When the partner called, our development team was able to provide a customization to support “DHCP options” on that specific AccessEnforcer within a few hours, and helped the partner define the correct DHCP option values. This saved the Partner a significant amount of time and hard work. The partner was able to deploy the AccessEnforcer at the customer location and have it work correctly, even though the AccessEnforcer did not officially support “DHCP options”.
I do not know of another company who provides service like this. Most companies will just say “no we don’t support that.” Some won’t even say “we’ll consider that for future development.” We want very much to continue providing service like this, and we believe we have set very fair fees to do so.
A few key points:
1. When you call many of our competitors or other vendors for a support issue, you’re usually routed to a Level 1 technician who is not authorized to escalate your issue to a Level 2 technician until they have gone through the troubleshooting process. Sometimes you must do this repeatedly, and sometimes it can last for a few hours. And most of the time if you ask them to help you with 3rd party products they’re not going to do it. In contrast, when you call Calyptix support you will reach an Enterprise-level Engineer who literally sits next to the development team and can quickly access those resources for all problems.
2. Our front-line team consists of Enterprise-level System Engineers, a Master’s level MIT grad, and a PhD. You have access to all of them.
3. Many competitor products force you to upgrade the OS to receive higher-level features. You must also manually apply updates and patches, etc. When you deploy an AccessEnforcer, we handle all those things for you. New features and functionality are automatically installed and implemented for you.
4. Many custom features we implement at the request of partners immediately go into the next AccessEnforcer release. Your names are literally listed in the development tickets and in the comments of the AccessEnforcer source code.
5. When we fix bugs, we roll out the fix as soon as possible to all deployed AccessEnforcers instead of leaving bugs unfixed for years as is the practice of many big companies.
When it comes down to it, many of you will not even be affected by the changes in the policy. Unless you need something over and above the scope of AccessEnforcer, most of it will be business-as-usual. I urge you to reply with more questions so that we can identify other areas we must clarify, as well tweak the policy to be as friendly as possible! One clarification I must make is that Partner Tickets for Business Hours Live Support are $49 for the first three months, instead of $89. This is not on the original documentation, and was communicated to me after I sent the initial email. $49 will be the price for Partners starting June 15th and ending September 15th.
A note on AccessEnforcer Training:
If you have not signed up for our free AccessEnforcer training, please contact me immediately to do so. The training is done via Webinar and lasts approximately 2 hours (sometimes longer according to questions). Ben Yarbrough logs into one of your AccessEnforcers with you and discusses best-practices configurations, and answers all your questions. He also shows you how to use the AccessEnforcer to gain a great deal of visibility into your customer’s network so you can identify areas to provide more value and strengthen your relationship with them. The feedback we have received from the training has been excellent. The Partners who have completed the training have gained tremendous insight into the power of the AccessEnforcer and are significantly more comfortable presenting the value to their customers.
As always, don’t hesitate to give me a call if you have any questions.
Scott S. McConnell
Business Development Manager
Calyptix Security Corporation
8701 Mallard Creek Rd.
Charlotte, NC 28262
800-650-8930 ext.8982 toll-free