Ever have your mind blown by the price of support on your NetApp system?

The amounts they charge for comprehensive hardware and software support, branded as “SupportEdge,” can be honestly mind-boggling. And if you’re like most customers, you’ve wondered if what you’re getting for all that cash is really worth it.

If you’re in a large production data center, you may not have a choice on whether or not you use NetApp support. Similarly, if you’re archiving medical or financial data, you may be required by company guidelines or even federal law to put your filers under SupportEdge.

But if you’re a smaller NetApp shop, it may be overkill for your needs. So if you’re a small or mid-size customer weighing the pros and cons of SupportEdge, here are some things to keep in mind:

The First Lines of Support Can Be Hit or Miss

You’ve probably had to replace a drive or two: A drive goes bad, you get a new one shipped out to you. Easy enough. But if you’ve ever had something go wrong that couldn’t be solved with a simple drive swap, you may have seen another side of NetApp support.

The level of support you receive totally depends on the person on the other end of the phone. And unless you’re an A-list NetApp business partner, the tech you’re working with will likely be Level 1 or Level 2.

Generally, Level 1 and 2 techs haven’t been exposed to the more complex problems that can creep up in a NetApp environment, and won’t be able to offer much insight into your issue. These guys are green, and still learning how to troubleshoot a filer properly.

 It’s rare that you’ll have access to 3rd and 4th Level engineers (who could solve your problem in a fraction of the time).  Again, unless your issue is particularly nasty, the top guns are going to be working with the larger accounts.

The harsh truth is, unless you’re a big-time partner, your data center issues are pretty far down on NetApp‘s priority list. If you’re not a major partner integral to NetApp’s business, they’re just not going to take you as serious as some of their A+ clients.

You May Have To Wait A While For a Response

If your issue is complex or unique, it may take the NetApp techs a long time to get back to you. Some people may way 4-5 days to even get a response from a tech. That long of a wait is simply unacceptable for most people.

One of our own engineers once waited so long for a response, he went ahead and worked it out himself over the course of a couple of days. When NetApp finally did respond, they congratulated him on figuring it out- and happily added his solution to the NetApp knowledge base! Who’s working for who, exactly?

You Have Other Options

The good news is, there are other options besides SupportEdge. Third-party maintenance is worth considering, especially if you’re a smaller NetApp shop with a stable environment. Third-party support from a reputable company will give you most of the benefits you get from manufacturer support, but without the eye-popping price. You’ll get hardware replacement, access to NetApp-savvy engineers for troubleshooting, and remote monitoring for your array.

The major caveat is lack of access to Data ONTAP updates, which only NetApp can offer. For big companies with a lot of production data on their filers, this can be a dealbreaker. But for shops running filers that are 4-5 years old, this may not be an issue as OS updates become few and far between as a system ages.

The bottom line is that you need to know your environment, your needs and what kind of value you would get from being a SupportEdge customer. If you have a filer that’s currently under NetApp support and you’re thinking twice about renewing, give us a call and we’d be happy to share what we know. To know more about NetApp support options, reach out to one of our support specialists or call 1.877.227.0828.