Scott Downie is Illumio’s Senior Vice President of Support and Services responsible for Technical Support, Professional Services, Customer Success, and DevOps. With a track record of establishing award winning post-sales client support at high-tech companies, he is in a unique position at Illumio: solving a problem that’s core to client operations (to the tune of securing over one million workloads globally) and maintaining a trusted partnership with each and every client.
I sat down with Scott to discuss customer support and services, from defining priorities and principles to how the team goes above and beyond to guarantee every client’s success.
SS: Why is providing best-in-class customer support a priority for you?
SD: When you buy a product, there is an innate expectation that the product will do what you have been told – what it is designed to do. But in today’s high-tech world, there is too much software sitting on shelves unused. This is often due to failed implementations, which can often be attributed to a critical missing piece: the support and professional services experts who are there to ensure clients reach their objectives.
As straightforward as it sounds, one of the tenets of my organization is that if a client needs help, then we will be there for them. If we’re in the process of pinpointing an issue and find that another vendor or technology is the root of the problem, we will stay the course to ensure the speediest resolution. We do not outsource our operation to third parties. We will help minimize the impact of issues quickly and efficiently, no matter where they originate.
In our current climate, all IT organizations (and companies as a whole) are stretched in ways they have never imagined would be asked of them. But our priorities and protocol haven’t changed. We are our clients’ trusted partner and always strive to provide the best technical resources. Maintaining these relationships is essential to ensure clients get the most value from their implementation.
SS: How do you instill this mindset in your team?
SD: That mindset is really part of our organization's ethics. We've set the foundation to provide top-notch support and services with a team who believes in that mission. I’m focused on upholding it on a day-to-day basis and holding myself accountable so that the team can follow my lead.
While working with one of the biggest banks in the world, shortly after our software was installed, coincidentally, they started to experience issues accessing their databases. While we were confident that Illumio did not cause the problem, we worked extensively with the database supplier and client to help guide them towards the root cause, which was indeed with the database. After many days and late nights, we formed a relationship with the database vendor to the point that Illumio is the only security vendor they will endorse to work with their software database. That willingness to do whatever it takes to ensure the client’s success is critical to Illumio’s success and everyone knows it from day one.
SS: As an innovative solution, it can seem intimidating to implement Illumio, and your team's job is to help break this down and make it more manageable. How do they do this?
SD: Without a doubt, from a technology perspective, the biggest challenge clients face pre-Illumio is knowing exactly what talks to what in their environment and how. Once our agent is installed, they can start building a map of their infrastructure – similar to a map that enables you to navigate to your intended destination – that helps them understand all application communications and dependencies, providing a dynamic view of their entire environment. Armed with those insights in an easily digestible format, it is quite straightforward to start writing segmentation rules to separate environments and applications quickly and efficiently, without the kind of rule writing bloat seen in traditional firewall and network-based approaches.
But in many cases, the existing infrastructure has become so complex, with new cloud-based solutions or just organic growth to keep up with business needs, that clients see the only path forward as starting again and re-architecting their infrastructures.
Our ability to separate the security environment from the network allows them to securely enable new environments they want to leverage while keeping the existing environment part of the same overall security posture.
Making all that happen can be daunting for any IT organization. With our Professional Services team’s global experience implementing deployments ranging from 20 to 500,000 servers, we can supplement a client’s IT team to ensure they reach desired outcomes as quickly as possible.
We are in a unique position for our clients when dealing with security vendors. We don’t have 10s or 100s of products to support. So, when a client engages us, they will be speaking to someone who can solve their problem immediately. In larger companies with micro-segmentation solutions, the security products often require a specialist and escalations before the client has access to that specialist. With our model at Illumio, clients don’t have to work through lower levels of support to get to the person who knows about the product well enough to deal with the issue at hand. All our support engineers are Tier 3/Escalation Engineers.
But don’t take my word for it. Read how one of the largest growers and sellers of fresh produce, Fowler Packing, streamlined their onboarding process with the help of Illumio’s professional services team. I’ve included a brief quote from our champion below: