Paying for software and hardware support is hardly a new concept. But I'm sick and tired of ponying up for support contracts on certain products when the only time I ever use that support is to download bug fixes. Some of those contracts are pricey, and refusing them would free up money for more pressing matters, but there's simply no realistic way to do that.
In short, I really don't want to pay vendors to fix their own mistakes, but that seems to be the "value proposition" in more and more areas of IT.
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To take a recent example, I had a storage array suddenly decide it didn't want to serve CIFS clients. It went from functioning normally to causing big problems in an instant. The CIFS service wouldn't restart and wouldn't stop, leaving the box stuck in that state. Other protocols were functional, but the only remedy was to reboot the entire unit, causing problems for the NFS and iSCSI clients. After the reboot, all was well once more, but the threat loomed that this could happen again at any time.
This particular array had a few other issues, such as the fact that statistics weren't being retained, and some additional minor oddities. These were all problems caused by the array firmware itself, not the configuration.
I contacted the vendor, since this array was new and had a three-year hardware support agreement. I described the problems and was told that unless I purchased a software support agreement, I was out of luck. I didn't need hand-holding to configure anything, I hadn't broken anything, and there were obviously significant bugs, but I was on the hook to pay to find out if these problems would be addressed in upcoming software releases -- or to get any further information or troubleshooting steps. That's just crazy.