Disclaimer: I mean what I am going to post. This is not a Microsoft fan boy post. That would include a conversation about my Zune, the Xbox 360 I don’t have or something… I think this is a great resource for a Microsoft shop.
Technical Account Manager. When your company pays for a premier support contract with Microsoft you get assigned a TAM. They help liaison between you and the support arm at Microsoft. When a case is open for too long, an on the ball TAM will call you, call the support group and get things moving. If you want to ask a question without incurring hours, they can sometimes help you out. Most TAMs will come out to your site at least monthly and just check in with all of the folks who have support accounts. They want to make sure you are happy and getting what you need.
How do I get one?
Well you have to have a Premier Support contract. I don’t know the details on pricing or how it works but if you are an enterprise that wants to have that peace of mind that you have the hours available, have the escalation assistance available, etc. It makes sense in my mind.
So what, I don’t need a TAM.
Well right, it’s not all about your TAM. It’s the services offered by Premier Support Services through your TAM and the support umbrella. Some of the benefits from being a PSS customer and having your very own TAM:
- A recent training course on SQL Server 2005 Performance Tuning and Optimization. This was taught by a Premier Field Engineer (They will rapidly respond to a critical situation at your site that can’t be handled over the phone. They work within premier support, not sure how they are dispatched to non-premier customers. Like anything I imagine if you set it all up front, it is more timely and less expensive) named George. Knowledgeable guy, great material. There are countless classes like this for all products. You don’t “pay” for the course but you have proactive support hours deducted from your account. If you do it right and spend more time in proactive mode, your reactive calls are hopefully lower and you end up doling out less hours anyway so it all works out.
- Alerts (Upcoming security patches, serious issues, information of interest to my role – SQL -, upcoming free webinar reminders, upcoming local free or PSS-hour deducting courses) – I probably get at least one e-mail a week from my TAM and that is consistent with other gigs that included premier support.
- An Extra Set of Hands – Your TAM sees your cases on their web interface, checks in to be sure you are getting proper support and helps escalate as needed.
- Access to web interface/advanced hotfixes – When you have premier you can log calls through a web interface. You can also search this interface for special knowledge base articles and hotfixes available only to Premier customers which may assist you.
- Someone to vent to – As in most of life, things don’t always happen in an ideal fashion. Without Premier you can still get to the chain of command. With a TAM you have someone readily available to whine to and you get instant help in making it right.
- A monthly visit – It has been my experience at a couple of places that our TAM came up and visited monthly. Asked how things were, chatted about upcoming events, asked how they could better help us, suggest proactive services and even head out to lunch on occasion.
One of my pet peeves is always being stuck in reactive mode. Sometimes you need to stop and ask yourself where to begin. Sometimes you may need some help. Through Premier Support you can have a SQL Server Health Check or a SQL Risk Assessment Program check (SQLRAP.. Not Michelle Ufford’s kind of SQL Rap – Ward Pond’s kind of SQLRAP)
Through these programs, a Premier Support engineer with expertise in the product being checked will come onsite, work with you and analyze your environment with a goal of increasing your proactive abilities. They don’t come to ding you, audit you or belittle you. They come with great tools, analyze your instances and help document a plan to get where you need to go. They also give you an excuse to be proactive. You have to schedule the days to work with them and you need to sort of just let things pile up and focus on proactive mode. This is an invaluable tool for you to use. In fact I feel the same way about these checks as I feel about finding your instances with the Microsoft Assessment and Planning tool.
You can learn more about Premier Support Services at this link.