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Breaking The Three Laws
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    Breaking the Three Laws is dedicated to discussing technically challenging ASIC prototyping problems and sharing solutions.
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    Michael (Mick) Posner joined Synopsys in 1994 and is currently Director of Product Marketing for Synopsys' FPGA-Based Prototyping Solutions. Previously, he has held various product marketing, application consultant and technical marketing manager positions at Synopsys. He holds a Bachelor Degree in Electronic and Computer Engineering from the University of Brighton, England.

The price of support

Posted by Michael Posner on May 9th, 2014

One of the unquantifiable values of a company’s offering is it’s support. Support is very important all the time but more so for a hardware such as FPGA-based prototyping products. You may need support on how to use the platform, on using the software, on using the capabilities or support for debugging and resolving a hardware issue. It’s hard to put a value (price) on support as you don’t really value it until you need it.  I had a personal experience this week which in my eyes speaks to the value of support.

For my birthday last year I was purchased a very nice business style backpack from a company called Everki, it’s the VERSA model. This backpack replaced a high quality backpack that I had used for over 10 years. Based on this you can see that I expect a quality product to last a long if it’s treated well. Well within a year my new backpack had an issue

You can see that the zipped material itself seems to have failed and is coming unstitched. I contacted the company and after confirmation that the backpack was indeed a real Everki backpack they assessed the problem and are going to fix/replace the item. WOW. I like to say that you don’t judge a company by a problem, everyone has problems, you judge a company by the way it resolves them. Everki, just like Synopsys, stands behind its products. This exhibits the value of support IMO. What if I had purchased a cheaper backpack and the same issue occurred? Would the other vendor supported me in the same way, I doubt it very much. Sometimes the saying “You get what you pay for” is very true. This is a premium backpack and along with the premium price I received premium support which makes the investment a smart one. It’s great peace on mind to know that my investment is protected and backed by great service and support from the company.

It would be very hard for me to put a price value on support as I think it’s priceless.

In the market space of FPGA-based prototyping I’ve been told horror stories about support. Examples like the vendor sending the hardware schematic with a note saying “Here you go, debug it yourself”, users unable to get support as the one support engineer at the vendor was on vacation as well as cases of hardware failure and the vendor responding, “buy another one then”.

Don’t fall into the trap of discounting the value of support. IMO it could be the single most important value a vendor provides. Do you have any good or bad support horror stories? I would love to hear about them.

Off topic, did you know that the pic snippet at the top of the blog comes from a marketing campaign that I ran many, many years ago announcing the availability of the Synopsys SmartModel (verification IP’s) ported to the Windows NT platform (yes that old). Below is a picture of the complete poster promotion (yes that’s me in the reflection)

As part of the promotion we mailed (snail mail, remember that) these posters along with a T-Shirt out to over 2000 customer contacts. The Synopsys marketing director at the time thought we were crazy and that the T-Shairt was one of the ugliest he had ever seen… but he still let us do it.

Well he was right, these were the ugliest T-Shirts even our customers had ever seen and the funny thing is that rather than throwing them away or using them to clean the car the customers took the time to send them back to Synopsys. Many of them arrived back with notes stating the fact that the T-Shirts were ugly. This was a huge success, customers took notice of the promotional material sent, can’t ask for more than that in marketing.

Also, look what turned up in my office

Someone read my blog and made their own Foldify creation. This creation was to celebrate 10 years of Synopsys acquiring Accelerant Networks. Nice job!

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