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VMware Support - VMTN Podcast #38

Posted on Friday, March 06, 2009 | 1 Comment

VMTN Communities Roundtable Podcast #38

Wednesday March 4th, hosted by John Troyer

Best practices in troubleshooting and working with VMware support

Download and listen.

The guests are Brian Pinkney, technical support manager and Mostafa Khalil the tech guy.

Brian gave some interesting details regarding VMware support

500 engineers across world 24x7
  • Palo Alto California
  • Broomfield Colorado
  • Burlington Ontario
  • Cork Ireland
  • Bangalore India
  • Tokyo Japan
Local language support in
  • Japanese
  • Chinese
  • Korean
  • Spanish
  • Portuguese
  • Latin America
  • French and German (business hours only)
Different levels of Gold, Platinum and BCS (Business Critical Services).

Everyone is entitled to "live answer". VMware are starting to use severities to priorities incoming calls.

Severity 1 - Mission critical application down, you are at significant risk of data corruption and loss. Business operations are severely disrupted.

Severity 2 - A major functionality is severely impaired.

Severity 3 - Partial, non-critical loss of functionality of the software.

Severity 4 - General usage questions, documentation or cosmetic issue.

Sometime support gets calls from people doing an install asking for someone to walk them through it.

There is a team who take support questions from the partners such as HP, Dell, IBM. If your support is with a partner you don't have a contract with VMware and can not talk direct to VMware.

Partners have a number of free support calls provided per year, details of which can be found in Partner Central in "Information Center -> Support".

Common issues :
  • It can be frustrating when a technical support staff member question asks for information which is not relevant to your issue. For example if you just want to know if a HBA is supported on a particular version and they then ask for your configuration and logs. They are working on keeping the support people listening to the question.
  • When you call in the more information you provide as the call opens helps them know how to route it to the most appropriate person more quickly. Especially if you log a request via the web the statement "I am having troubles with ESX can you help" is not that helpful.
The panels tips for how to start the trouble shooting:
  • Full disclosure of your environment (version numbers, hardware, storage)
  • Look at your log files, but these can be difficult to interpret
  • Follow your run book if you have one
Mostafa presented his tips:
  • Anticipate for any future issues by preparing. Collect your logs on a regular basis by running VM Support.
  • For 3i use the VMI appliance and forward the logs into it so you have a history.
  • Run vm-support on a regular basis. It helps with tracking configuration changes or data loss. 
  • You don't need the service console to troubleshoot 3i, which can be a misconception.
  • The advanced trouble shooting and advanced logging analysis sessions from VMworld have a lot of details. 
  • Mostafa asked if people were interested in a call home feature like SANs typically do. For the security conscious this could forward to an internal proxy server which then forwards onto VMware. Does VMware have a plan here?
  • Host profiles in VI4/vSphere were mentioned. They can be a good method of backup for your servers. 
  • You can collect the VC logs as well as the ESX logs which is performed via the VI client. 
  • SAN trouble shooting is array specific. You are interested in your zoning. Ensure single initiator zoning which is recommended to reduce RCNs (Registered State Change Notifications) http://www.yellow-bricks.com/2008/10/28/single-initiator-zoning/
  • Redundacy of your service console and kernel ports.
The role of Technical Account Managers (TAMs). These can be an additional advocate within VMware, being on top of tickets, getting the right expertise on them, setting expectation with customers. They also have a good understanding of the customers environment.

How to escalate a ticket? There is an official escalation process. There is the “first line”, the “research” and then the “escalation engineers”. If it’s a technical issue it gets passed up as the engineers run out of technical skills or understanding. For the non technical escalation, such as when there is a disconnection in urgency or response, if you are not connecting properly, playing email/phone tag, if the case is dragging and revisiting things over and over then call the support center and ask for the "duty manager" and give them your ticket number. They will attempt to prod or kick it along or possibly get it reassigned.

Everything you could ever want to know about VMware support can be found in the VMware Technical Support Guide.



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