Big Blue Offers U.S. Companies U.S.-Only Support
June 22, 2009 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Nationalism creeps into the computer business from funny angles. Who made the processors, memory, and disk drives in computers used to matter back in the 1970s and 1980s, and then when we moved to more global manufacturing in the 1990s, the name on the label of the machine and where the sales office was seemed to matter more, with the possible exception of supercomputing, where national security issues hold sway. With so much of the tech support now outsourced to India, and unemployment running high, support is now a hot button politically, and we all know how Big Blue doesn’t want to annoy Uncle Sam as it pushes its “smart infrastructure” agenda.
To that end, IBM last week announced that starting on October 1, it will start offering something called Software Secure Support Via USA Citizens. This support option certifies that support for IBM’s software products (and any other software that the company offers support for) will be done exclusively by U.S. citizens on U.S. soil and that any data analysis and call center data will be contained in an isolated network maintained by IBM in a facility that meets the security specifications of the U.S. government. (Presumably this facility will also be on U.S. soil, by which IBM presumably does not mean Guam or Puerto Rico or the Marianas, but somewhere in the 50 states.)
The Made-in-the-States support offering is available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern, Monday through Friday excepting IBM and government holidays, and it must cost more than standard service or IBM wouldn’t bother selling it. In the event that an issue comes up outside of these hours of operation, IBM’s Passport Advantage or Operational Support Services (SoftwareXcel) support services, which are not “secure,” meaning backed up by outsourced employees I presume, take over. The stateside service offering is being made available to commercial as well as Federal government customers, but it could turn out that state and local governments take an interest in Buy American when it comes to support and they demand coverage as well. You can find out some more details on the service here.