At Red Hat, a Technical Account Manager (TAM) connects with customers and partners to help their organizations improve operational excellence using open source enterprise solutions.
In other words, a TAM is a technical advisor and advocate within Red Hat for your team. Your TAM provides specialized technical knowledge of the Red Hat products you are using, bringing together internal resources with expertise to support your landscape.
Red Hat customers operate in a range of industries with unique challenges and your TAM tailors the service engagement to these specific challenges.
When a TAM is assigned to your team, the engagement begins with a meeting to introduce the service and how it works. Over time, teams evolve, changes happen and it can be easy to lose sight of what additional things your TAM could be doing for you besides what they already do.
Here are six tips to help you make better use of the Red Hat Technical Account Management service.
Think of the moments when you don’t know something and would rather avoid asking because you think the question is too basic or too complex. Sometimes, you struggle to communicate the question clearly or worry about others not understanding your point of view. Other times, you want a second opinion to review technical configurations you are implementing. A seemingly "simple" question may turn out to be more involved than you think.
Your TAM can guide you in finding relevant information, connect you with experts and suggest new solutions. Your questions are valuable feedback for Red Hat and help us improve knowledge base articles, documentation and products.
Make a habit of reaching out to your TAM through the communication channels you have agreed on. Scheduled recurring meetings with your TAM are another good opportunity for your team to discuss technical topics and objectives.
Sharing ambitions and objectives with your TAM is essential in shaping your mutual relationship. At the start of the year or quarter, discuss your Red Hat technology plans including planned deployments, upgrades, migrations, scaling environments and integrations with third-party solutions. For example, by the end of the next quarter, we want to have completed x, y and z.
Take time to show your TAM around your infrastructure and processes, so they can understand how you do things. Having a visual understanding of your environment is easily the best way for your TAM to understand your Red Hat landscape. Providing detailed diagrams and documentation also comes in handy for future reference.
By being aware of your plans, your TAM can keep you informed about known issues, bug fixes and related changes that might affect your objectives. Your TAM can drive collaboration with Red Hat's ecosystem of engineers, product teams, quality engineering, architects and others to gain insights into what to expect and how it might affect you.
Here are some examples of objectives to discuss with your TAM:
- Planning deployment of new environments
- Planning upgrades to current releases
- Scaling existing environments
- Integrating Red Hat products with other solutions such as identity providers
- Migrating workloads from third-party solutions to Red Hat products
- Reconfiguring environments to make use of new features
- Reviewing high availability requirements
- Software bugs in Red Hat products affecting you
Make a point of reviewing these objectives as the year progresses and at the time of your TAM subscription renewal.
Make it a priority to highlight the Red Hat product features and tools that you depend on, as well as any anomalies you encounter. We know that customers and partners do not utilize all the tools available in a Red Hat product and you only leverage specific features to fulfill your business needs. Your TAM connects with an internal ecosystem in Red Hat, effectively bringing you closer to the teams involved in shaping the roadmap of the features you love. In addition, your TAM advocates on your behalf about the features that matter to you.
Occasionally, product teams will engage with customers that use a particular feature to gain a deeper insight into that usage and identify opportunities for improvements. TAMs also engage with product managers to gain insights into where a product is going. With an open source "upstream first" model, following the community developments can provide hints of changes to expect in a later Red Hat product release. You might have used a component for many years for a specific use case. Over time, features can change thanks to enhancements, introducing a need to adapt your workflows. With knowledge of the features you rely on, your TAM can proactively discuss with you upcoming feature changes that impact your workflow.
If you're interested in diving deeper into a specific feature, your TAM can connect with product engineers to provide more information and context. Furthermore, you can view and propose improvements to the underlying open source technology.
TAMs understand that customers are not always able to upgrade to the latest version of every product release. Aging infrastructure is common despite the risks it poses to availability and information security.
Speak to your TAM about blockers, dependencies, or other factors getting in the way of keeping your environments current. We often hear about the lack of updated applications capable of running on current Red Hat platforms.
Your TAM can assist with putting together action plans to downsize your legacy footprint, aided by Red Hat supported tooling to help you perform upgrades or migrations more seamlessly.
A Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) user, for example, can perform in-place upgrades on existing infrastructure using tooling supported by Red Hat. Similarly, Red Hat OpenShift users can utilize the Migration Toolkit for Applications to assist with modernizing legacy applications.
Red Hat provides Extended Life Cycle (ELS) for customers to continue using certain products for a limited time beyond the traditional support lifecycle. In addition, ELS enables access to critical and important impact (at Red Hat's discretion) security fixes and select urgent priority bug fixes.
In unique situations, your TAM can request a support exception for you to receive defined support for a limited period while performing upgrades.
Protecting your Red Hat environments in adherence to compliance regulations is vital. Inform your TAM about the challenges and concerns you are facing in this area.
These days, security vulnerabilities have somewhat of a celebrity status with catchy names, despite varying degrees of severity. The publicity piles on the pressure for your team to identify, patch and verify their environments are fully mitigated.
When vulnerability scanners report security defects in your environments, how do you quantify the extent of exposure? Correlating scan reports with CVE IDs, vendor severity ratings and the status of fixes can be a tedious task. You are not alone in this and your TAM can guide you with the aid of products such as Red Hat Insights which proactively reports vulnerabilities, affected product versions and helps provide remediation. Where uncertainties remain, your TAM can liaise with Red Hat Product Security to address your concerns.
Furthermore, your TAM can recommend tools such as Red Hat CVE checker which provides information about CVE IDs, affected products and the status of security fixes.
Remember those “feel good” moments when you find the exact solution to a problem by searching online? Finding the right solution saves valuable time without having to ask for help. In reality, not all problems are solved this way and sometimes the right solution exists but is difficult to find.
Your TAM can assist with finding information in the Red Hat Knowledgebase, product documentation and other resources you may not be familiar with. You can also point out errors or gaps in the published resources for amendment.
- When creating a Red Hat support case, have you noticed a list of potential solutions appearing before clicking "Submit"?
- When Red Hat Insights reports known issues in your environment, what is the information source?
This is the knowledge base at work.
The knowledge base content exists thanks to the customers and partners collaborating with Red Hat support every day, and the issues and resolutions from these interactions are published to make it easier for you to solve problems.
Your Red Hat TAM also contributes solutions to the knowledge base. Whenever you resolve issues on your own, share what you learned with your TAM. They can then make this information available for others through the knowledge base.
If the information you need is available in limited form through product documentation, reach out to your TAM about gaps or anything that is unclear. Your TAM can bring your concerns to the attention of the documentation team for review and amendment.
Your Technical Account Manager is by your side, helping you to meet and exceed your business goals using Red Hat solutions powered by open source. So what are you waiting for? Connect with your TAM and realize the potential of your Red Hat investment.
Resources about Red Hat Technical Account Management
About the author
Sam Wachira is a Red Hatter based in Scotland, UK. He is driven by a passion for open source software and collaboration, and he delights in technical engagements, empowering customers to succeed.