Tech Support Cracks The Case: Two Countries, Seven Months, One Solution
An international financial organization failed to restore critical files at its London facility using NetBackup 6.0 and called Symantec U.K. frontline support for help. After a number of unsuccessful attempts to restore the data using the Java GUI interface, the Symantec support person helped the customer use the command line interface to retrieve all the files. In most support organizations, restoring the data would have closed the case. However, the Symantec team knew they needed to trace and fix the original problem with the Java GUI interface, even if command line operation was an alternate solution. To isolate the GUI problem, the support team escalated the issue to two of its most experienced backline support personnel from two separate countries. Sue is based in the U.K. office, while Carlos works out of the Symantec office in Madrid, Spain.
From support to engineering troubleshooting
"The problem with the GUI seemed very isolated," Carlos recalls. "If these certain files were selected, only a few would come back." Carlos and Sue researched Symantec NetBackup support logs and found no other incident of the GUI behaving in this fashion at customer sites. Both Sue and Carlos made initial attempts to replicate the problem at their locations. "It is important in these cases to reproduce the customer problem," Carlos explains. "It not only gives engineering a better understanding of how to fix things, but it allows you to work on resolving the situation without continually bothering the customer." When initial attempts to recreate the error failed, Carlos began to suspect it was the data type or file type that was causing the problem. Working with the customer, Carlos duplicated the file folders, file names, and file locations from the U.K. customer site to a system in Madrid. While he was not able to replicate customer data, at least he could mirror the backup environment of the customer site.
The replicated environment in Madrid experienced the same errors as the U.K. customer. Carlos and Sue felt they were closing in on an answer. They turned over the results to Symantec engineering. Some time later, the engineering team provided a NetBackup patch. Carlos tested it first in the Madrid support environment before forwarding it along to the customer. "It seemed to work at first," Carlos remembers, "But a similar problem occurred a few months later." Carlos, Sue, and engineering went back to perform more tests and came up with yet another patch. This has worked well for months, and the problem now seems fixed.
Long-term pay off
In all, while the initial restore of those critical files required only a few hours of frontline technical support assistance, the Java GUI mystery took nearly seven months to solve. Carlos, Sue, and the Symantec engineering team worked mostly behind the scenes, keeping in touch with the customer with periodic updates. Because Carlos and Sue had done such a thorough job replicating the customer environment and duplicating the error, engineering did not need to interrupt the client for information. After the issue was finally resolved, the customer filled out a post-support satisfaction survey. "We received the highest marks," Carlos said. "The top marks. The client was very pleased that we followed this issue through to the very end."