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Tech Support Cracks the Case: Cross-channel Support

Created: 26 Feb 2009 • Updated: 04 Aug 2009
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Swathi Turlapaty's picture
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Good installations can go bad

When a large Canadian IT consultant ran into trouble serving a client, it turned to Symantec technical support for assistance. The customer site had suddenly lost the ability to perform backups. The consulting firm had checked and rechecked the BackupExec 12.0 installation, but was stumped when it determined that nothing had recently changed in the backup software or the Windows server operating environment. Unfortunately, Symantec frontline technical support could not track the problem either, so the case was quickly escalated.

One problem, three support teams

The case was turned over to Ben, a four-year BackupExec support specialist. First, Ben confirmed all the trouble-shooting steps previously taken by frontline support. Next, he examined backup and system logs to trace operations. He quickly saw that no backup jobs were initiated or had attempted initiation. "We performed a few tests to get to the root of the problem," Ben explained. After a few command line and interface tests, Ben determined the problem was in the Windows server installation. Even though the consulting firm maintained the environment had not changed, somehow the BackupExec processes were not loading and running in the server OS. Something was preventing the backup service from loading, and Ben concluded it could only be traced to the operating system. Further research revealed that the ODBC connector was not loading correctly; the connector is a critical component needed for BackUp Exec operation. At this point Ben tried various Microsoft technical support suggestions for resolving the issue, but he had no success.

At the end of day, Ben turned over the case to his counterpart, Jared, another veteran of the BackupExec support team. Jared confirmed that the issue was a malfunctioning ODBC connector that would not allow the backup software to access its database. The next morning Ben assisted the consulting firm with Microsoft technical support to get resolution. "The process took over a day, and we had to go through three levels of Microsoft technical support," recalls Ben. "The best we could figure was that somehow the file had gotten corrupted," Ben said. After discussing several options with Microsoft support, it was decided that a reinstallation of Windows Service Pack two (SP2) would be the safest and easiest way to restore BackupExec functionality. At this point three support teams were at work on the problem—the consultant group, Microsoft, and Symantec.

Long hours, but great results

After the SP2 reinstallation, BackupExec was up and running as it had before the incident. Ben and Jared checked in with the consulting firm a few days later to make sure all was running smoothly. While the entire case—from first call to final resolution—ran nearly 48 hours, the consultant, the client, and Symantec support were all happy with the results. One of the consultants personally commended the team in a letter to Symantec management. "I have to extend my compliments to Ben and Jared…both were an absolute pleasure to deal with; their knowledge, skills, service and attention were crucial to the resolution of both support calls. Ben in particular was very helpful in assisting us with a joint support call to Microsoft," the letter reads in part.