re: The Ambush That Set Me Straight
"I don't fault our customer. Its IT problems are our problems to solve. The buck stops here; it always will."
If this was a software/product defect, that is obviously on you. If it was an "operational issue", it is easy to say, "whatever your problem is, we will fix it... for free", and if they are a large customer it definitely makes sense, but if they are a customer that uses one of your technologies with a smorgasbord of other technologies, you cannot constantly be putting teams on every integration issue or you will go out of business. CIOs are, not entirely but generally, moving toward massively distributed, heterogeneous environments due to capital costs, operational costs are not considered. They buy an assortment of technologies from all sorts of vendors, many of which hate each other, so they can lower capital costs and then expect everything to work seamlessly when they intentionally created the seams. If they want everything to just work, buy a mainframe and call it a day. Otherwise, integration and the inherent problems with the decentralized model are the price they pay for flexibility.
No technology vendor provides day-to-day integration support outside of their products and support SLAs over the long term. They may do it for a short period to displace a competitor or protect a large install (e.g. your story), but not over years. CIOs that are going to separate vendors for hardware, OS, hypervisor, database, application server, business applications, etc and expect it all to work together as seamlessly as the big iron need to consider their skill sets. Their staff had better be up to the many challenges of DIY builds. They all see Google and peers creating these open source, massively distributed x86 environments and think they can do it in their organization. If they can hire hundreds of MIT and Stanford engineers to design and manage the environment like Google, they probably can do it.
I think most reputable technology vendors are willing to make a good faith effort at solving any problem their customers bring to them, but in the age of massive decentralization no technology vendor can take on the system integration role as part of product support. It is really a question of whether CIOs want to spend budget on high-end systems, system integrators or staffing and what is the right mix of those three categories.