Sun Supply Problems

Dear Sun Microsystems...

At My Place of Work, we're a reasonably sized Sun customer, so placing orders for kit through one of our approved Sun suppliers is something we do on a regular basis. Unfortunately Sun appear to be making it increasingly difficult to do so...

Problem number 1.

We've been needing to upgrade one of our core servers for some time, and finally got the funding to do so during summer last year. We recieved a suitable quote in October, placed an order in November (and were told there was a lead time of 2 weeks for the equipment, which was fine - we could get the machine built and in place over the Christmas Vacation, with minimal downtime. We prepared the software vendors to be on call during this time, then waited for the provisional delivery date. I called our supplier to check the exact shipping date, who was as surprised as I was to discover that the shipping date had been changed (by Sun) to the end of January. That buggered our plans up, but I was willing to accept that with a new model of server delays do happen, although it would have been nice if they'd bothered to tell us.

End of January comes round, and I give our supplier another call - the shipping date has moved to the end of February, and this is true for all their UltraSparc 4+ based orders. CPU supply problems seem to be the issue, but again, Sun are being remarkably quiet on when this is actually likely to be resolved. We put off the server replacement again, and decide we won't make any more plans until it's actually arrived.

It did finally arrive at the end of February, and so far it's as impressive as I'd hoped in testing - I just wish it hadn't taken an extra 10 weeks to arrive.

Problem number 2.

We have a number of public access kiosks, which are overdue for replacement (used by up to 5000 people on a busy weekday). At the moment they netboot a cut down linux kernel and just run a locked down firefox on a private network, which is suitably minimal maintenance compared with trying to keep Windows patched and locked down - a route we've been down before and given up on.

After some investigation and testing, we decided that some Sun Ray 170 thin clients would be the way forward - especially as an academic customer we can take advantage of the matching grant promotion (buy one get one free, effectively) when it's running.

I placed an order for 40 of these terminals after recieving a suitable quote from our supplier. A few days later I recieved a phone call - it turns out Sun are no longer supplying country kits (keyboard and mouse) for free with these systems. Worst of all it turns out they're not even on the matching grant promotion. This means I now have to get a completely separate quote sorted out, approved by our managers (with some serious egg on my face for appearing to have forgotten about a sodding keyboard and mouse), processed by our purchasing team and then finally submitted to the supplier - probably another week delay.

Thanks a bunch, Sun. Please don't make me have to add a third item to this page.

I like your hardware, and your support is typically excellent, but please stop making it so bloody hard to buy things in a timely fashion, especially when you seem so keen on giving kit away.

-- Ben

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