[W:Symantec] is a company with which I have a love-hate relationship, erring strongly on the side of hate nowadays. I suppose I should pick my words carefully or something as they are a big partner of Dell but honestly weeks like last week really make it quite hard. Yes, I know, the software mainly works pretty well and is the right price, but what about when it doesn’t work?
Some of Symantec’s products are pretty good. BackupExec is OK for a backup product, even though everybody hates backup, the old VVR product was pretty good (shame they canned it), I quite like Norton as a home security product despite the price, and [W:Enterprise Vault] is actually quite clever some of the time. Some of their products filled me with hope then cruelly dashed it. [W:Altiris] and [W:NetBackup] are the culprits, and the reference call for [W:PureDisk] was so dismal that I never deployed it even though it was given to us free. I think the major deployment platform for PD is PowerPoint.
Part of this is my fault (and others like me) for allowing ourselves to be sold promisedÂ panaceasÂ to what are often organisational problems. That never works. Some of it is their presales team, who never admit that you need a Chinese army to make most of their “enterprise” products work.
But far and away the biggest factor in making people hate Symantec is the support. It is utterly dire. Not only is it dire, but they are actively making it worse.
Example: Five years Â ago when I used BackupExec to protect a half dozen key servers in a branch office, if you had a problem you could ping up a text chat window and a friendly dude from India would fix your pain there and then. If it got tooÂ fiddlyÂ he’d pick up the phone. First click to final fix was generally of the order of an hour or so. But now it’s different. For two weeks I’ve been onsite while a client waits for resolutions to issues with BackupExec. Every call seems to involve uploading some more logs and then going away for another couple of days. One guy has been almost full-time on hold or chasing Symantec support calls for two weeks.
This is “basic” support. I know from what we were told at SunGard that a Sev 1 from a basic support account goes in the queue behind Sev 1 and Sev 2 from Business Critical. The cost of Business Critical support isÂ extortionate, so much so that a substantial market exists in third party support for Symantec products.
My beef is not the speed so much as the fact thatÂ everyÂ communication drops into a black hole. It’s not just me saying this, it’s a major reason why NetBackup is under review at SunGard with a view to replacing with [W:EMC Networker] – EMC support is good, Symantec support is unpleasant. Even when you’ve paid hundreds of thousands for the product, support still stinks. And if it turns to ratshit you’re on your own – expect them to try to close it down to statements of work as soon as possible, and “doing what you bought the product to do and what it was sold to achieve” does not figure anywhere on there.
Sorry guys, you are way of the pace here. There are some superbly helpful and knowledgeable people in Symantec, and a huge machinery designed to impress you with them pre-sales – occasionally also on escalation post-sales. The gulf between the pre sales and post sales experience, though, is far and away the biggest of any company I know. I used to like you, I used to advocate for you, now I find it really hard to stand up for you in the face of legitimate criticism which you show no signs of addressing. Even bloody [W:CA ARCserve] is making friends these days, Symantec is making mainly enemies because after you’ve handed over your money they give absolutely the strongest impression that they wish you’d go away and leave them alone.
On Friday I asked a friend at Symantec for some advice; on the way in this morning a colleague of his called me, in ten minutes he imparted more information and genuine help than the client had got in the past two weeks of the support mill. The difference? The helpful guys are pre-sales. One was formerly on mission critical support. Big shout to Mark Small, top man, and powerfully persuasive pre-sales. What a shame the post-sales support lets him down.
Buck up, lads.