Top posting due to lengthy email...
In my experience from the last year on Alcatel (several years on E and M Juniper before that) you couldn't be more wrong. As far as looking at the config, I back them up to a UNIX box nightly. ":1,$ s/exit//"
Not one of the support guys has ever mentioned SAM when trying to figure something with them out on the CLI, but I do have to agree SAM suks compared to self-written .pl code.