Botched SAN sparks legal battle

Botched SAN sparks legal battle

A legal battle is underway in Melbourne after an integrator allegedly left its customer an under-performing network for 12 months at a cost of $600,000.

While ARN is unable to identify the parties involved, the situation is believed to badly taint the perception of the reseller community in the eyes of small-to-medium enterprises across the country.

Nearly 12 months ago, the customer placed an order with its integrator for a Fibre Channel (FC) based Storage Area Network (SAN). According to the customer's general manager of IT, the company subsequently called in another storage specialist integrator as a consultant after months of inadequate performance.

The customer then had to fork out a further $120,000 to rectify the entire problem, the IT manager reports.

Fortunately for the customer, this second integrator was able to salvage the SAN and additional parts of the customer's network.

In addition, in a matter of weeks the second reseller had doubled the efficiency of the system through design improvements alone, claims the IT manager, with the company placing an order for an additional 600Gb of storage to take the total SAN capacity to 1.2 terabytes.

"Initially we were having problems as it was taking twice as long as [expected]. [The first reseller] said it was the best they could do and I said that wasn't good enough. We spent eight months dilly-dallying with fibre channel from them, before we brought [the other integrator] in as consultants," the IT manager said.

"When it comes to [the customer's industry] we're a breed of our own," he added, citing varying file sizes (from very large to quite small), and the need for extremely fast retrieval times.

The customer then trialed a new SAN from the second integrator, which is based on FC RAID technology from an independent storage vendor in the US.

"Once bitten, twice shy, I wasn't going to buy a SAN without trying it," the IT manager told ARN. "[The second integrator] was so confident with their recommendations, that they installed the [SAN] on a two-week trial approval; needless to say, we placed an order for this SAN."

The IT manager claims that while it is hard to quantify the cost of the poor performance of the original SAN, having to wait minutes for graphics to refresh impacted his design team: "because you're not very willing to try some changes when it takes so long to come back".

Meanwhile, legal notice remains served to the integrator at fault, with relationships severely strained all-round. As a result, both the customer and the integrator in question have been effectively muzzled by their respective CEOs claiming the matter will remain in "commercial inconfidence".

Furthermore, relations between the two companies have become so affected the customer's staff are restricted from communicating with any member of the integrator's staff under a directive by the customer's CEO.

He claims the situation does not reflect poorly on the technology involved in the initial implementation, but rather casts aspersions on the supplier of that technology.

"I would not judge the technology by the parties involved," the CEO said. He claims his company has always been on the forefront of new technology, and as a result has experienced problems in the past. However, the CEO remains adamant that with the right supplier, one who's willing to work with the customer through any problems that emerge, then the relationship stays intact and the project is completed.

The customer's CEO refused to comment further to ARN.

The final word from the integrator's CEO was that he was not privy to any claims that the customer was unsatisfied throughout the entire ordeal. "I have never been told they were unsatisfied," he said.

ARN's investigation continues.

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