Michael Dell Is My Co-Pilot

Lately I’ve given a lot of bad press to Dell through their recently acquired Force10 line of networking. While the equipment has a bevy of issues that do need to be dealt with, their largest shortcoming since being bought are the decline in support, the lack of community, and seeming refusal to enter into the world of social media. I have been talking a lot with some people from within the Dell/Force10 organization and have some high hopes; I may even share some of that soon in another post. This post isn’t about Force10 though…

The company I work for has a knack for purchasing fledgling and/or underdog products months or even days before Dell sets their sights. Historically we made the switch to Dell desktops and servers a few years back and proceeded to build out an infrastructure to replace the aging systems. KACE was one of the first, now Dell KACE. Then Force10 came in only to be bought by Dell last year. Then, about 18 months ago we got funding for a small SAN. I wanted to make sure it was a solid product, able to scale, and had some unique enterprise features. We signed the PO to buy two controllers and a single tray (giving us 10TB usable space) on the day that Dell announced it’s purchase of Compellent. I sighed heavily because while Dell ┬áis a massive powerhouse in the supply chain, they have a reputation for having shoddy support and sales. The product has been amazing since we got it. It’s as fast as we need it to be and more stable than I hoped for. It requires very little hand holding which is good when you have a network engineer running your storage. The part that makes Compellent really shine is the support, Co-Pilot support. If you have ever dealt with them you know and if you haven’t, they bend over backwards to make everything right and never let you off the phone (and will even sit on hold if you’ve had too much Pepsi and need to hit the little boys room). They monitor the systems proactively via call-home functionality and deliver replacement parts next day. I can not stress enough how much their support has made me an evangelist of the Compellent product line.

I recently upgraded my SAN to add another tray quadrupling my space to 40TB and Co-Pilot support walked me through the cabling, configuration, licensing, and eased my concerns about doing it all on a live system. The engineer I dealt with, Ramon in Austin, was funny and personable and kept everything light hearted even when we had to deviate because we initially cabled the system correctly, but not off of their design guide. Being a fair person and knowing how much crap I have given Dell lately I gladly tweeted this out.

A bit unexpectedly I got a response from the man at the top.

Now I have been putting this company through the ringer for not embracing social media, only spewing marketing material and never getting involved, and there is a direct response from Michael Dell. Obviously he’s on twitter, and looking quickly at his account you can see that he’s fairly active on twitter. He sees the power of it (and so do I since I never thought my name would even enter someone like Michael Dell’s mind, let alone warrant a response).

The big news in that tweet though is how he recognized the advantage he’s holding in Co-Pilot support and is planning on extending it out to other product lines… What does he mean by Enterprise and Data Center Gear? Force10? PowerEdge Servers? EqualLogic? Time will only tell… but I’m becoming even more hopeful now that Dell is going to make some drastic changes.

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