What are you shopping for when you buy storage?

The datacenter and all things in it have really heated up these last 18-24 months.  Compute companies are going in the storage business, networking companies are going into the compute business, everyone wants to have as much of the datacenter pie as they can.  The good side to all of this, is a lot of technology and innovation, and prices being driven down for the customers as competition beat each other up over and endless stream of features.

But who has the best products?  Well, it depends on who you ask.  Ask the competition and they will be quick to point out everything you do wrong and they do right.  Ask the manufacturer themselves and they will tell you they have vastly superior products.  Everyone has something to say.  But at the end of the day, who really cares who has the absolute cheapest disk, the best de-dupe, the lowest power consumption, the greenest solution?  Is that what you are shopping for?  Storage arrays don’t just do one job, they do many.  If you focus on any one task, you are not going to find a solution that beats everyone hands down.  Vendor A has better de-dupe, Vendor B has a better snapshot technology but Vendor C has the cheapest cost per/Tb, which do you choose?

Too many times, customers get led down a path booby trapped with pitfalls and FUD.  What customers need to concentrate on is why are they really looking to invest in a new solution?  What is wrong with what they have? What would they like to see improved?  Customers today are trying to get a lot of mileage out a storage array.  Not only is space important, but features like Thin Provisioning, Data Protection, High Availability, Storage Virtualization, NAS, FCoE, De-Dupe, Storage Encryption, etc, etc.  If you make your purchase about any one single item, you are likely to get derailed from whatever the true “best” solution may be for you and instead making decisions on data that may or may not change much for you at the end of the day.

This is nothing unique to storage, I see this day in and day out with everything from blade servers to ethernet switching.  As an engineer I am always truly looking to solve a customers problem in the best way I can, and I am looking holistically at everything from their ability to administrate the technology, fund it, take advantage of its features to migration and support costs.  These are important things to consider, the cost of a storage migration can easily eat up any savings made in selecting a more inexpensive array!

Anyways, I digress, I think I had way to much fill of marketing hype today from just about every manufacturer out there.  This is a rapidly changing industry, today’s leader in de-dupe or data protection could be in the backseat within 12-18 months if not sooner.  Don’t make decisions on a solution based on one or a few pieces of data that may or may not matter, pick solutions that solve your problems.

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