Software support and “key account” managers

As Mike wrote about his experiences with hardware vendors, I’m gonna devote this here post to my favorite software company in the world. We recently bought two copies of a software called “2X Application Server Enterprise Edition“. As one would think from reading the specs of the software, it’s near a Citrix solution (which it is, at least for a small part); but in return it’s faaaar away concerning the price. Just so you get an idea, about what I’m meaning with “faaar“:

The above are fixed costs, you need them anyway as both Citrix as well as the 2X solution is only working *on top* of Windows Server 2003 Terminal Services.

Now, here’s the real comparison between 2X Application Server & Loadbalancer and Citrix XenApp Platinum Edition:

While 2X is licensed per terminal server, XenApp is licensed per user. As you can see from the above prices, the 2X solution is roughly 1/6 of the Citrix XenApp solution.

Now, as we had a slight problem with the 2X Application Client (first this weird error, “Error Code: [01/0000001E] The published application couldn’t be started.” which I admit was an error on our behalf, by copying the user registry into HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE) I was already annoyed by their support.

Now, when they released their version 6 of the 2X Application Server/Client software, I tried producing a proof-of-concept for our installation, which improved certain things (like finally having Single-Sign-On or SSO for those of you who like buzzwords), and I tested it out together with one of my trainees (who’s having the subject “thin clients and terminal services” for his final paper of his education).

Now, I stumbled upon this great feature of the Microsoft Remote Desktop Console (mstsc) Version 6.0, called “Drives that I connect to later“, which is basically forwarding drives, which have been added to the computer, *after* the remote session has been established. Once you enable the check mark (before connecting to the remote session obviously), the drive is instantly forwarded to the remote session, and I figured why not try that with the 2X solution. Now, we tried and tried, reinstalled the terminal server and the 2X stuff along the way, and tried again with a plain machine, and it still wasn’t working. So I first tried mailing the German key account manager, which in turn told me, the software already supported it …… uhm, I just tried, and it doesn’t.

So, OK. We tried again. Reinstalled the terminal server, reinstalled the Windows XP workstation, installed 2X and stuff, and tried it again. And still didn’t work. OK, so I went ahead, asked again. The key account manager asked me which OS and version of the RDP we were using, and I told her we’d be using XPe and RDP 6.0.6000. She forwarded those to the technical support, opened a support request in their “Support center“, where one of the technical assistants in return told me *yet* again, it should be working.

Additionally he told me kindly, that I could add drives later, or else I should provide them with a detailed description of what exactly I imagined it doing. So I went ahead, and created a “demo” of some kind, using Adobe Captivate demonstrating them what I was seeing. I also told them, that I wanted the 2X client to simply support that feature. Additonally it works when using plain RDP, but doesn’t when using 2X, which in return should tell them that their software is at fault, and not my terminal server. OK, when I created the first demo, I had the USB drive still attached to my work computer, which in turn got forwarded to the remote session when establishing the connection. I guess that was a ‘lil bit embarrassing, so I created yet another demo.

As you can see from that demo, I launched three separate windows. One showing my local workplace, one the workplace of the terminal server launched in RDP, and one window showing the remote workplace launched via 2X. That apparently was a bit much for the 2X support guys, as they told me I’d be only showing the RDP window, but not the 2X window. *WTF* Didn’t I open just *three* windows, each showing something different ?

After that I’ve been told, they couldn’t reproduce it with their 2X Client. The technical assistant also told me, that due to my dual screen layout (my complete screen resolution is something like 2560×1024) he could only see half of what I’m doing. So I went ahead, and created *yet* another demo (it’s actually a six-part flash video, due to Captivate switching to “Full-Motion” mode .. main, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

After two separate tries to upload the 35M file to their support center, which failed due to only allowing 8M uploads, I uploaded it to my private user site. Some hours later, the technical assistant told me, I should press “F5” for a explorer refresh or View -> Refresh in the 2X Client. I told him, that after trying both the USB drive still isn’t showing up.

After an hour he wrote me back, telling me that after extensive tests, that I should open notepad in the remote (2X) session and see whether or not the drive is appearing there.

That’s it so far. Initially I wanted to only post this if they couldn’t figure it out, and only *after* I talked to the key account manager again, but I’m rather tired. Maybe if they are reading this: I’m fscking TIRED!

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