I know I am not the first one raising this issue and I am sure I will not be the last, but I have to voice my ever growing frustration with frontline Novell Technical Support. Over the last 1-2 years I can safely say that SRs that were resolved by a Novell Support Engineer and not by me or our staff were the exception. Response times for non mission critical issues are poor, sometimes up to a week goes by between follow up emails, just to request more logs which then again require 3-4 days to be analyzed.

One recent example:
We have a 4 Node OES2 SP1 Linux cluster that was recently migrated from Netware. During the migration we split one large 1.3 TB NSS volume into 3 smaller chunks utilizing DFS junctions. Yesterday afternoon our helpdesk received multiple calls from clients receiving errors when trying to access DFS junctions. Accessing the target volumes directly worked without any issue. Since the call volume quickly increased and these junctions are critical we decided to open an SR while continuing to troubleshoot the issue. We are a utility company and have 1200 users accessing this cluster (including a 150 seat callcenter and our Mobile Dispatch center). After uploading the usual support config logs the only suggestions we were getting from the support engineer is to reboot our OES servers since there might be some cache corruption, even better: "Take down the entire cluster and then rejoin one node at a time!!" (Did I say 1200 users and a 150 seat callcenter?). This was the first solution offered to us on many recent SRs.
After researching on our own a bit longer we found duplicate volume GUIDs in the VLDB and where able to resolve the issue without any additional downtime on the production cluster. A cluster reboot would not have fixed this issue. Even Windows has made it past the point of rebooting as a first troubleshooting step, what is up with that?
We don't even want to call Novell Support anymore since we feel like we lose valuable troubleshooting time. It seems as if many of the engineers don't know the products very well and the moment there is another Novell product involved they are completely lost. "This might be for the ZEN Team, DS Team, IDM Team and so on". (There is even a separate CIFS team) Heck, I have to know all these products' couldn't frontline Novell support engineers at least have a basic understanding of some of the product not in their core job description??

I think with OES2 Sp1 Novell has finally reached a point where there is a solid migration path from Netware, but let's face it, the product is much more complicated to configure than Windows Server, especially for somebody who has never seen anything but a Windows box before and doesn't know how to spell LDAP or eDirectory. I don't have a lot of experience with MS Support, but even if it is just as bad, with its large install base Windows has one major advantage: Google.
There is almost no MS bug or problem that I could not research on the Web because somebody else already ran into it, so my self-support options are huge. While true for Linux this does not apply to OES with its much smaller install base. It's a relatively new product which had and still has some bugs (as all software), but most specific Google searches will return between 0 and 5 hits at the most. That's why quality support for this product is so much more important. If I have to rely on Novell Support as my only option and I can't get quality help, I get very frustrated.
Novell needs to understand that survival in this particular product segment requires expert support (the way it used to be when people where raving about Novell Technical Support). The way things are right now I cannot see OES getting significant market share other than with Novell die-hards like myself, end even there only with the ones that are highly skilled. We experience these issues with support for other Novell products as well, but what makes it so much more critical with OES is that from all Novell products this is probably the easiest one to replace. If Novell Support can't help my staff they come running to me for help, and that is becoming more and more of a problem.

We love Novell products and we use most of them but especially some of our younger engineers who don't know the "old" Novell are raising the question why we are dealing with this. If I have a new employee right out of college who has never touched a Novell product before and after one year knows most of them better than many frontline NTS engineers, we have a problem. We are paying almost 200k a year for maintenance and support and I believe we deserve better than this.

Please fix Novell Support
(or allow me to push Option 2 to go straight to backline)

Frank Weigert
Director Technical Services
East Coast Utility