The role of the help desk is very important, especially when supporting a cloud provider. After all, it is the cloud provider that ensures the execution of important IT processes of its customers.
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Lack of timely technical support can lead to negative consequences: disruption of orders, delay in payment of bills, loss of important customers or suppliers, deterioration of the company’s reputation.
That is why cloud providers are very responsible for organizing technical support. In this article, we will tell you about the features of this service.
A qualified technical support service must respond to a customer’s request in such a way as not to violate their obligations. These obligations govern SLAs and other agreements between the customer and the cloud provider.
Technical support staff must provide the correct solution to resolve the issue within the time frame allotted by the SLA, or correctly answer user questions. Therefore, technical support staff must be highly qualified and have a good IT outlook, extensive work experience and be able to quickly solve the assigned tasks.
In addition to these professional qualities, technical support staff need to constantly develop and train professionally.
The Main Responsibilities of Technical Support Specialists:
- Obtaining information about infrastructure failures
- Alerting clients in case of possible infrastructure failures
- Prompt correction of emerging problems on virtual servers at the request of clients
- Protection of client’s personal data
- Providing prompt feedback when users apply.
Let’s take a closer look at these responsibilities.
How technical support staff learn about infrastructure failures?
To work as efficiently as possible, cloud providers not only focus on standards and world best practices, but also build their own resource-service model.
Resource-service model and technical support
The resource-service model is the relationship between various services and the required infrastructure elements. Each component of such a model is determined by its own set of characteristics and relationships with other components.
IaaS or VPS cloud services include the following components:
- Virtual infrastructure
- Virtual infrastructure management interface
- Backup of virtual machines
- Support service.
IaaS or VPS services depend on the health of physical servers, storage systems, Internet service providers and data centers where the provider’s equipment is located.
Each of these components depends on other infrastructure elements. For example, the availability of a NetApp file array is dependent on the availability of controllers and VSS hosted on NetApp storage. Internet access in a data center depends on the health of BGP routers that communicate with other autonomous systems (AS).
It is possible to refine these dependencies further, depending on the problem that needs to be solved within the framework of the resource-service model.
The resource-service model is needed to properly configure service monitoring, assess the impact of incidents on other components, to properly plan risks and threats, and comply with the SLA from the cloud provider.
If the resource-service model is properly organized, then the cloud service provider can predict the occurrence of problems even before incidents occur, and if an accident does occur, then learn about it in time and inform customers.
Cloud cloud service providers are constantly looking for optimal systems and products that can better track the state of important elements in the resource-service model, and usually several systems are used at once to monitor different components.
You can use System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) to monitor Microsoft-based products. SCOM allows you to combine information about the functioning of various IT components, detail information on all events through a single management console. In case of any problems, SCOM can send e-mail alerts to administrators. Administrators can flexibly customize the monitoring logic. For example, you can get information about system events in one log and about application programs in another. You can set up health alerts for various services to be aware of problems in advance. For example, you can configure DHCP or DNS service monitoring and troubleshoot problems before users become aware of them. Get high quality vps to secure your data and all at VPSMalaysia.
Zabbix Monitoring Tools
This system is distributed under the GNU license, and allows you to monitor network services, servers and network equipment. It supports several types of monitoring:
- Simple checks – Can check the availability and responsiveness of standard services such as SMTP or HTTP without installing any software on the monitored host.
- Zabbix agent – can be installed on UNIX-like or Windows-like hosts to get data on CPU load, network usage, disk space and other resources.
- External check – execution of external programs, monitoring via SNMP is also supported.
- IPMI – monitoring the status of server equipment using protocols such as IPMI, HP iLO, Dell iDRAC, IMB SRA, Sun SSP, etc.
In the event of an incident, this monitoring system also allows administrators to be immediately informed via email or telegram.
Crash Notification to Clients
If a failure occurs, the technician follows his instructions. These instructions describe the required actions. They can be either linear or branching, depending on the specifics of the problem. The following types of incidents can be distinguished:
- Child (subordinate)
The method of solving it is determined depending on the type of problem. In case of complex problems, the technical support employee can turn to more experienced specialists.
In the case of a large-scale problem, when a high urgency of decision-making is required, the person responsible for one or another component of the resource-service model chooses a strategy for solving this problem. Typically, when such a problem occurs, the support team receives a large number of tickets, and these tickets are combined with the main (parent) problem. Therefore, as soon as the main problem is resolved, all tickets associated with this problem are also automatically closed.
When an incident occurs, it is important to notify the client of the incident. Cloud service providers strive to inform their customers about all problems in all possible ways – calls, e-mail messages or SMS. Clients are also notified of changes in the status of their orders.
Help Desk and Work with User Requests
User requests can come through various channels: phone, e-mail, through the feedback form. Each request, as in the case of incidents, is assigned a number and a corresponding ticket is created in the Help Desk system. The goal of the Help Desk system, in addition to eliminating the loss of requests from clients, is to quickly solve the problem or fulfill the user’s request. This primarily affects the ultimate customer satisfaction. If the applications are resolved in accordance with the expectations of the service consumers, then the customers will be satisfied and will not look for another provider.
Thus, the Help Desk system directly affects the period of interaction between the client and the provider. As various studies show, this is critical because:
- 66% of customers stopped working with service providers after experiencing poor service.
- Retention of 5% of current customers can bring an additional 25 to 95% of the profit to the company.
- Depending on the industry, acquiring new customers can cost 5-10 times more than retaining existing customers.
Client requests are handled by specialists of various qualifications, sometimes third-party contractors, manufacturer representatives, etc. are involved. Technical support processes have mandatory solution timelines that are reflected in the SLA.
All Help Desk systems can be divided into 3 main classes:
- Solutions for automating the processes of providing IT services within the company (ITSM solutions).
- Solutions for automating mass support of end users (Customer Service or Customer Support solutions).
- Solutions for automation of external support (b2b support)
All three of these classes are actively used by technical support services. ITSM solutions can be combined with a monitoring system. This combination allows you to create complex rules in which tickets are created automatically, and the binding of recorded events to existing ones can be performed. It is also possible to record such situations when, for example, the monitoring tool does not receive regular messages from the systems that everything is in order with them. As soon as such messages are not received, a problem ticket is created in the ITSM system, or an existing ticket is found, to which a binding is created on a similar event.
Cloud consumers can interact with the provider through dedicated self-service portals. The portal allows you to form requests for services of interest to customers, find out the status of applications, which specialists are engaged in a task, have access to reference materials, evaluate the work of the support service, access the cloud services control panel, and much more.
And for a cloud service provider, a self-service portal allows you to reduce the cost of providing IT services, freeing specialists from routine operations, reducing the number of errors on the part of both cloud consumers and providers, providing both parties with the necessary information. In addition, typical service requests must also have resolution time parameters, according to the SLA. The self-service portal allows you to effectively solve this problem.
Despite the fact that the support service is in the last place in the resource-service model of IaaS or VPS, without this service, the work of a cloud service provider is impossible. In our article, we examined not only the principles of the service, but also ways to improve the efficiency of its work.