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Review: The new IBM Support Portal

IBM Support Portal

IBM has just released the IBM Support Portal, and those who attended the Lotus Technical Information and Education January Community Meeting were treated to a quick demo of this newly updated service from IBM.

Overview

The IBM Support Portal allows you to customize the portal to meet your specific needs via selection of the IBM (and Lotus) products that you currently use. The goal here is a pretty basic, yet much needed one: to create a unified, centralized view of all technical support tools and information as well as information on hardware, software, and IBM services.

Pretty basic and expected functionality for any portal, but something that you might not notice at first pass: you don't need to be logged in to use this feature. Anonymous users are given preference cookies, so if the user returns to the IBM Support Portal from the same client, they can instantly see their product-specific support and education content.

IBM Support Portal - Product List Manager Once the user logs in, via their IBM website User ID, they will be asked if they wish to include any products selected during Anonymous browsing should the IBM Support Portal recognize the preference cookies. Pretty slick, and a solid UX!

And once you've selected your products and services, and you've added module portlets to your page, you can choose which of your products are shown at any given time via the Lotus Notes 8.5.1 Calendar-like check/uncheck selectors. In this way, you can work as cluttered or uncluttered as you wish!

Content

The majority of the dashboard content available for the products (at least for the Lotus products like Lotus Notes and Domino) consist of links to online resources.

Tasks (think reason why you're on the Support Portal) are categorized in the following groups:

  • Downloads
  • Troubleshooting
  • Documentation
  • Forums & Communities
  • Planning
  • Installation
  • Usage
  • Open service request
  • Site assistance

Each section highlights different content, which is context-sensitive to your Products selection. Planning, for example, gives you information on Product Support Lifecycles, the IBM Lotus Notes Domino 8.5.1 Upgrader's Cookbook, and even information on the Domino Configuration Tuner.

With inclusion of community-generated Wiki content, developerWorks articles, and more - this could be the go-to for IT Professionals that work with IBM products and services.

Conclusion

I was happy with what I saw in the demo, and really looking forward to seeing how this evolves. Of course, evolution follows adoption, so it's a matter of the target user community looking to this resource as their go-to online support channel.

A few things I didn't like - the AJAX-fueled UX was choppy. Product selections required reloading the entire page versus something more in-line.

I would recommend this service to the following people:

  • Customers, consultants, and other IT professionals looking for aggregated online resources for IBM products and services.
  • Your customers or coworkers who don't read blogs, listen to podcasts, or stay off the social networking grid.
  • People who want to learn about the feature functionality of the products, or how to get more out of their IBM technology investments.

I would not recommend this service to the following people:

  • Hippy geeks that are on a first-name basis with any of the engineering teams.

If you fall into that first category and not into the second, check out the IBM Support Portal!

And if you're interested in more information on the IBM Support Portal, check out this series of videos.


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