More than 1,100 partners have signed up for Zenith Infotech's SmartStyle/MirrorCloud offering with about 2,000 cloud servers shipped since February, 2011. About 50% of those signings are net new partners, an impressive figure in my mind. But I've also heard from a few readers who say they have had technical issues with the solution. I asked Zenith Infotech Senior VP Maurice Saluan for an update on how the SmartStyle MirrorCloud deployments are going, if there have been issues, and how Zenith has been addressing the issues. Here's the update.

In an email reply to my questions, Saluan wrote:
"Yes. There are problems as evidenced in the forums but we're working with every partner whether they have voiced their displeasure or not. Furthermore they get their money back if they are definitely not interested in moving forward. We have about 4% that have returned the units that have been delivered. We’re tracking every return with the reasons why. At the same time when most are returning the products they say “call me back in a few months” because I’m still interested."
To put the issues in context, Saluan said Zenith faced a similar situation when the company rolled out the first BDR solutions in 2007. "We are seeing far faster adoption with the cloud offering than we did with BDRs in 2007," he wrote. But in some cases, partners are selling before they are training on the solution, and some problems have popped up.

Recent Moves and Next Moves

To address the challenges Zenith has made multiple moves and is preparing more moves. They include...

1.  Zenith is conducting technical, hands-on Bootcamps in Pittsburgh with 5 Bootcamps finished and future ones fully booked out. They are currently scheduled for every 2 weeks. "The feedback has been all positive," wrote Saluan. "We’re looking at taking these Bootcamps on the road regionally to major cities  and hope to get this going in Q3. Also we’re looking at requiring a certification before we’ll sell the solution to them. We're still talking through this.

2. To help ease installation of the Linux-based system, "we’re adding a remote installation service that costs $159 per site where our NOC engineers will configure the cloud servers if the partners desire, once they attach a laptop, provide Internet connectivity and connect to the servers that will be mirrored. Regardless how long it takes us, [the cost is] $159 [per site]. This option will be available in the next few weeks."

3. Zenith is working to make sure partners connect the cloud server stack to a UPS. Zenith is also working to make sure partners configure the solution for a graceful shutdown in the event of a power loss. Without that safety net in place, hard shut downs can corrupt the system.

Longer Term

We'll reach out to Saluan again in Q3 to see how the steps above are performing.

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