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November 2006
Executive opinion

Ensuring availability
As Information Systems become increasingly complex, customers need the quality of support Bull can provide

By Edgar Snoijnk, General Manager, Group Field Engineering and Customer Support

Today Information Systems tend to be increasingly complex and increasingly heterogeneous – with systems, storage, networks, often from different suppliers, all integrated into a sophisticated infrastructure, most often performing mission-critical operations. This is why ensuring availability is the top priority of Bull’s customer support teams which are our key intimacy forces at customer sites. Such proximity is unique for the company’s customers.

Tailoring the organization to the new environment…
Bull has recently created an international Field Engineering and Customer Support organization with new management. Our1600 field engineers guarantee maintenance and proximity support services to customers all around the world
We have decided to add new programs to make our services more pro-active and more responsive to customer needs for trouble-free operations and near 100% availability. The new organization is taking shape. It is based on two pillars: Field Engineering and Customer Support.
Field Engineering is focused on Bull accounts who require intense, continuous support. It services their special needs, assuring infrastructure availability. They also build bespoke solutions for them when the need arises and integrate Bull and non-Bull products into the infrastructure.
Customer Support, which includes maintenance services, is offered to all Bull customers. Here again, the mission is to assure customers of high availability, especially for their mission critical applications. With customers linked to the Bull customer support network, the Bull engineers are able to monitor customer systems, detect bottlenecks or potential problems in their infrastructure, and react in real-time. Even to the point of fixing the problem before it actually happens.

… and capitalizing on strengths
In preparation for the development of new customer support services, we have instituted a process of dialogue between the different Bull country organizations and our partners. While each country has been serving its customers very well – if the results of the customer satisfaction surveys are anything to go by – the cross-fertilization of processes and best practices needed to be intensified. This is exactly what we are focusing attention on today for the development of new offerings that will revolve mainly around very large infrastructures. Here, customers need help to master their end-to-end solutions. They need Bull’s know-how to do it.
Similarly, as Eastern Europe’s IT market explodes, customers can obtain better support if the Bull national organizations are bundled into stronger units with critical mass. This will enable the creation of high-level expert teams to work across borders and better mobilize the Bull expertise. In fact, this is one of Bull’s big competitive advantages. Being based in Europe, it is geographically close to its customers. If there is a really important issue, a Bull team of development engineers can be on a plane and on site in three hours or so to fix the problem.

Our obsession is customer satisfaction: anything less than a 100% satisfied customer is not acceptable
The key measurement of our services is customer satisfaction. Indeed, the support specialists are the company’s customer facing eyes and ears. And they are committed to aspire to absolute satisfaction. For the last five years, customer surveys done by the independent TNS SOFRES Institute show the progress of customer satisfaction, which is at its best for the last two surveys. The same surveys show that more and more customers prefer Bull services against competitors.

As Architect of an Open World™, Bull is well placed to be the supplier of choice for customer support services
Committing on High Availability
As already stated, our key focus area is high availability. Bull France has a highly competent high-availability centre providing proactive services to its customers with references in SAN/NAS storage heterogeneous solution, and in various operating systems environments (AIX, GCOS, Linux, and Windows). Starting in 2006, our skills are made available to support customers on a pan-European basis with already new contracts in Spain, Italy, Germany and Belgium.
Handling heterogeneity
As heterogeneous infrastructures become more and more widespread, customers with numerous brands want a single point of contact to support them according to their needs. This is where Bull has a trump card to play – its knowledge of heterogeneous systems. A rather unique expertise that many IT suppliers do not have. We can fulfill the role of main contractor, detect problem areas and make sure the customer has only one single point of contact: Bull! We also provide similar services for non-Bull heterogeneous facilities, and indeed today act as independent support provider for organizations.
Maintaining and supporting Open Source environments
Bull is a long-time Open Source advocate. It has built up in-depth know-how over the years to become an acknowledged Open Source expert. In addition to expertise epitomized in our Open Energy suite of services and NovaForge, a secure, shared tool for the design, verification and development of distributed applications, we are providing our customers with an industrial support through our call centers, tailored to their needs, supporting their information systems.

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