Posted 23 Mar 2009
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During the long years of developing our (highly specific) framework for the industry we cater to, we have used three major product-suites to develop (more or less) three different versions of the framework, this as a means to REALLY review the respective suites in a real-world scenario (and one so complex that most people can't grasp it).
Suffice to say,we didn't actually BUY the suites, we've been using trial versions, upgrading whenever a new version is released (which reviews the ability of such a suite to actually work within an existing application, none really do, but that is for a large part accountable to the complexity of the framework).
Telerik's support is BY FAR the best of the three chosen suites. Sure, they're not always the fastest (and they don't need to be, i believe they state 72 hours for trial versions). Both the forums (the community has been very helpful a number of times, and Telerik staff, often project managers and other higher level individuals are often the first to reply to a post) as well as the support ticket system have provided very good information as well as fixes to issues. In contrast, getting support for the other two suites (which are both MAJOR product suites) has been a real pain, both pretty much stating 'buy our product and we'll help' a number of times.
On the other hand it has some functionality that others don't have, or when they do have it, it is very poorly implemented.
This goes in both directions, you can not expect all product suites to have the same functionality, one needs an edge to sell suites like this, Telerik goes for the 'what a web application may need, we have it' approach, which is not a bad one to take in this particular market. Just look at how fast they had a Silverlight suite going as compared to their competitors, while Silverlight requires a download by the user (and as thus, is a complete and total no-no to use in, at least, my industry), i thought that was pretty impressive, considering the functionality it delivered then.
As a business owner, i've learned that support is incredibly important, especially when one sells incredibly complex software, be it custom for a customer or a framework like the one we're working. We even develop highly complex simulation models for super-computers for that matter. So, we go for a similar approach as Telerik when it comes to our 'products', if my customer needs it, we'll deliver it. With such a wide range of products, support becomes a major priority, especially support delivered by people who actually know what they are talking about (not easy in the case of, say, a simulation model). The better my support, the sooner my customers will return to me for other products. As much as time wasted costs me money, it costs untold amounts more money for my customers, if i want to keep my customers, i'll have to deliver not only the products, but also the support (and they pay a yearly fee for most of such support, although it depends on the contract we have with the customer) in order for them to use the products correctly.
So far, we've had ups and downs with all three of the product suites, but Telerik never fails to provide support where needed, and that is to a potential customer, not one who already paid. Bugs, inconsistencies, the occational screw up, etc can all be forgiven, as long as the communication with the right people is in place and something actually happens that deals with whatever the issue is. Telerik has, so far, not failed to deliver.
In the end, while Telerik's product suite has been the most troublesome to implement into our framework, it has also been the quickest to implement, partly due to the low complexity of the product suite (it is MUCH more transparent than the two competing products) but for a very large part also the prompt support and the actual productivity level that follows in order to help, be it a work-around or a fix within the assembly. All that, puts Telerik at the top of our list at the moment, and when we do make the final decision on which suite to use and we decide on Telerik, i am convinced that the relationship between them, us and my customers is going to be very enjoyable. It has been so far, i don't see why it would change.