The Netezza Afterlife service from Smart Associates is extremely similar to the break/fix style support service IBM has traditionally provided Netezza/PureData for Analytics customers to date, designed specifically for those systems that have reached End Of Life or are no longer supported by IBM directly. We’re able to do this because all our support engineers used to be part of the global Netezza product support team and know the hardware, software, and firmware inside out. We also have access to an inventory of spare parts either from existing customers we’ve helped migrate off their old Netezza platform, or from trusted third party suppliers and resellers. The only major differences between our support service and IBM’s are:
Pricing: we offer a combination of fixed (all inclusive) pricing models; 9X5 (work day) or 24X7 hours of cover; non-production, volume (>3 systems), and small (NX00X-005 or smaller) discounts; and charge a flat rate per supported system (no matter how large).
Software: we’re unable to make bug fixes or patches to IBM software, as we don’t have a copy of the proprietary source code. This is why we strongly advise customers to download all the latest versions of IBM’s NPS software and related tools and utilities prior to their support contracts expiring (as we’re perfectly capable of installing these patches or software upgrades independently of IBM if necessary on our customer's behalf in future). That said, we are able to remotely investigate and diagnose the cause of performance or stability issues and provide assistance resolving these without the need for software updates in the vast majority of cases.
Hardware: replacement parts are chargeable, and can either be sourced on demand or pre-purchased in advance (based on a historical PMR analysis to provide an indication of predicted failure rates). For older generation systems that are no longer manufactured, parts will typically be used, but wherever possible we endeavour to source new parts using the correct IBM FRU numbers (to ensure compatibility with the customer’s existing system). The on-site physical installation of replacement parts is something we typically expect customers to perform themselves with our remote assistance.
Alternatively, if customers would prefer us to provide a field engineer to perform all on-site hardware replacements on their behalf for a fixed price per year (including parts) then that is also an option, although in this case the fixed price will vary according to the size of the system.
As user nz:
ssh mm001 info -T blade | grep -i hs
nzpush -s 1/1 encl show --all | grep -i exp
As user root:
dmidecode -t 1
NZ Event Integration
In order for Jira ServiceDesk support tickets to be automatically raised when any significant hardware or software events occur on a supported system, the firstname.lastname@example.org email address needs to be added to any configured nz events requiring our attention. This is something we can either do on a customer’s behalf, or they can perform themselves. Please note that without such integration, support tickets will have to be manually raised by customers themselves, as described in the Jira ServiceDesk Registration section above.
Clearly in order for this to work it is essential that the Netezza systems are able to communicate with mail or proxy servers capable of sending emails outside of the customer organisation. Again this is something we’d be happy to assist with.
Communication and Change Management Plan
So that we’re aware of what we are and aren’t allowed to do without authorisation under the support agreement, how to get such authorisation if required, and who to communicate with when performing operations that may potentially affect on line or batch overnight users and processes it is essential that we are provided with the necessary change management, and issue escalation and notification processes documentation to ensure we can remain compliant with our customer’s internal standards and procedures.
If such documentation doesn’t exist, we’d be happy to help produce it in consultation with the necessary and appropriate customer personnel.
Hardware Replacement Training
Any hardware components supplied under this support agreement will be assumed to be customer replaceable by default (unless we have specifically agreed and been authorised to perform such activities locally on your behalf). We have an optional remote training program to guide customers through the entire hardware replacement process if this is something they are not already comfortable and familiar with. Please raise a ticket to ask for it to be scheduled if required.
Regardless of whether a customer has completed the optional hardware replacement training or not, we highly recommend they raise a support ticket before attempting any kind of hardware replacement so that we can provide assistance throughout the process by remotely running all the necessary commands to locate the failed component (making a led flash on the cabinet to ensure the right part is removed) as well as to format/power cycle/firmware upgrade/etc. any replacement components and rebuild/reconfigure them (if/as necessary).
Are you aware of all the correct part numbers that are used for each different type of appliance?
Yes. We know exactly which part numbers to order for which models (one of the reasons why we perform a healthcheck first is in order to determine the correct parts for each system we support). Most importantly we know the IBM FRU numbers to make sure we get the right combination of disk drive, and chassis, to fit the supported system.
What is the process of recovering from failed disks (as in, after the disk is replaced, will your DBA experts manage the recovery remotely)?
Yes, we can run all the necessary commands remotely to locate the failed component (making a led flash on the cabinet to ensure the right part is removed) as well as to format/power cycle/upgrade firmware/reset serial number/etc. any replacement components and rebuild/reconfigure it (if necessary). This is also true of host as well as SPU/Sblade parts, SAS switches, AMMs, etc. If you want we can teach you how to do these things yourself, but the reality is most customers prefer us to do all this for them.
Have you sourced these types of disks before, and is it through a 3rd party hardware vendor?
Yes, we have a variety of sources for parts. Some are from existing customers who we’ve supported and helped migrate off Netezza; some are from 3rd parties. Which source we use depends on availability, and price – but the point is we have several available in our supply chain.
As part of the monthly coverage, does the Netezza support cover any periodic patches, and maintenance of all layers (firmware, Netezza platform, etc)?
We are absolutely capable of installing patches and upgrades to all layers of software and firmware – obviously in consultation with the customer to ensure change control procedures are met, and that any such maintenance occurs during a correctly scheduled window. The one thing we ask is that you please download all currently available patches and software updates (e.g. NPS, HPF, FDT, INZA, Performance Portal, SQL Extensions, etc.) while you’re still covered by IBM Support so these can be applied if and when necessary at a time of your choosing.
Does this service invalidate IBM support for HW, SW etc ?
Not as such, but given IBM is refusing to support any N1001/N2001 systems beyond the end of June 2019, and N2002 systems beyond the end of June 2020, this is surely not a concern. All our replacement parts are certified IBM components.
What happens when Smart Associates can’t fix a problem? Who do they escalate to, if anyone?
This has never happened. As previously mentioned we have numerous ex-Netezza and IBM support engineers on the team who know the systems inside out and know what they’re doing.
Having said that, given the age and unsupported nature of some of these systems, along with the fact that some components are no longer even manufactured, It is entirely possible we may run into an issue we’re not able to resolve and under such a circumstance clearly the support service would have to end. If the issue of using an unsupported platform is important to you, we can optionally migrate everything off your existing Netezza systems onto an alternative supported platform typically within a matter of weeks. Please let us know if you require a separate quote for this.