Microsoft to Share Support with Directory Management ISVs

One of the most frustrating technical support experiences IT managers face is calling an operating system vendor with a question only to be told that the problem is actually a function of an ISV’s product, and "You’ll have to call the ISV." Then, of course, the ISV replies, "That’s an OS problem, I’m afraid you’ll have to call the OS vendor."

To create a more integrated approach to support services, Microsoft Corp. announced a joint partnership with three directory management vendors. The software giant will work with Entevo Corp. (www.entevo.com), FastLane Technologies Inc. (www.fastlanetech.com) and Mission Critical Software Inc. (www.missioncritical.com).

The agreements are separate and distinct, but Microsoft is making the same general offer with all three ISVs.

"Microsoft is going to be the first point of contact," says Peter Houston, Active Directory product manager at Microsoft. "We will take the call and be trained to work with the ISV’s products."

Microsoft will take joint ownership of customer issues, share technical support information and enable experts from Microsoft and the ISVs to work together as a team. The result for customers will be seamless support, even when incidents involve both Windows NT and directory management software from an ISV.

"We’re trying to make a single, unified approach to support, rather than sending customers back and forth between us and Microsoft," says Olivier Thierry, vice president of marketing at Mission Critical.

Under the agreements, Microsoft will work with each ISV to train support professionals, share technical information -- such as white papers, knowledge bases, product updates and best practices for solving customer issues -- and provide a 24x7 problem-solving path.

When each program is up and running, which the companies expect to happen within about 30 days, the directory management ISVs and Microsoft will be better equipped to handle the call, and both companies will write up a trouble ticket and follow the problem to a resolution.

"We’re in a better position to diagnose NT problems and Microsoft is in a better position to diagnose calls regarding our product," Thierry says. "But this doesn’t change the fact that both companies have to handle their own support. Instead, it provides a first-line triage and joint monitoring of each other to ensure that our big customers are happy. We’re not directly supporting NT and Microsoft is not directly supporting [our product]."

The companies are also investigating the development of an electronically linked support system for immediate access among support professionals at the various companies.