Novell to launch national Linux support centre in SA

By   |  August 30, 2004

Novell South Africa is putting the final touches to a plan to roll out a national Linux support centre in South Africa before the end of the year. The new centre will be available to both Novell clients with a service contract as well as to users of other OSS products who will be charged a premium call rate. Tectonic spoke to James Thomas of Novell South Africa to get more on the centre.

Tectonic: Is Novell planning a single national call centre or regional support centres to assist Linux users?

James Thomas: A single national support centre and service desk infrastructure for telephonic logging and resolution of calls, provided via an 0861 number. Should the call need escalation to engineers for on-site resolution, the call will be directed to the reseller channel and to companies in the Linux community with the specific skills to service calls at a low cost. This ensures a national footprint for on-site support via smaller local relationships and large organisations with capacity in major centres country-wide. Even though we will aim at resolving 75%-80% of the calls at initial point of contact, physical visits may be required.

T: How will this support service be financed?

JT: Novell will include the support for customers who purchase the Novell products under the volume license agreements as part of the product. Products purchased individually or other OSS products will be serviced on a per call service fee basis, with premium call rates. We will also make provision for \”support call\” packs to be purchased by resellers or end-users. It should also be noted that this will not be \”service level agreement\” (SLA) type support, which means that it would rather compliment the existing reseller and support organizations in the country\’s service contracts with customers, than compete with it.

T: Will it be limited to only SuSE/Novell clients? Or could anyone use the service?

JT: Initially focused on Novell’s offerings but with a view to extend the services – as mentioned above, Novell would service other OSS related calls for other products similar to the Novell solutions in this space, but those would then be charged for accordingly. Novell may in future expand the supported products to include other vendor\’s products as part of the default service.

T: Is the support centre aimed at business users? Or will it cater for home users as well?

JT: Business users would typically purchase the technology under Volume Agreements and would then have full access to the support. Other users, i.e. home users, would be supported via a premium call rate, etc. thus catering for both types of users.

T: Where will the skills come from to staff the support centre?

JT: The partner selected has extensive skills and will continue to build and expand their skills. The service desk will leverage their existing knowledge base internally and the Novell/SUSE knowledge base. The service desk will also be able to escalate queries to Novell Technical Services for resolution and interact with the OSS community and other local partners in order to deliver a complete service. It is expected that 80% of the calls would be common and around 20% of the calls would require unique and specialist skills. We are gearing up to handle this mix and will continue to expand the internal knowledge base as the service grows.

Thomas says Novell has already selected a partner to run the centre and will announce that publicly in the course of the next month.

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