Support services from Ian Hobson

We have teamed up with a London based company, who run a telephone hot line and remote support operation. As well as acting as a central place for coordinating any support calls, they also use some clever software to close - not just respond to, but close - about 80% of all calls without a site visit. Naturally this results in very quick response times, and fast recovery for the client. It also means that the engineer can help many more people every day, further reducing costs.

In addition, we install software on the servers we monitor that copies all events in the error logs into a central database. Here our software is continuously checking those logs for problems in the making. This can have significant benefits.

For example, consider what normally happens when a hard disk fails. One engineer visit to diagnose the problem, then a delay while the new disk is obtained, and a second visit to install it. Then there is considerable work in rebuilding the machine and restoring from a backup. Commonly such an event will result in two visits, 24 hours down time and some loss of data as the system is restored back to the last backup.

However, when a hard disk's bearings get worn, the first result is the occasional error, which appears as an entry in the system log. This does not stop the server because the operating system will reset the drive, re-attempt the read and get the data. Occasional read errors are a fact of life, but should the rate of these errors start to grow, it is a signal that the drive is on its way out.

Our software will notice the rise in errors, and alert our engineers who will contact you to arrange a visit to fit the new part. The old disk has not yet failed so we can simply copy the old data over. Result? One short, planned, period of down time with no loss of data.

By monitoring for problems and using remote diagnostic software, we can offer a very much better service than the local engineer can, at no great cost.