RFP: Content-Addressed Storage

Implementation of a CAS system could be difficult if you have a complex environment with many different applications and data sources to archive.

Content-addressed storage systems have emerged to help IT managers protect business data while keeping it accessible and searchable. Implementation of a CAS system could be difficult if you have a complex environment with many different applications and data sources to archive.

When sending out your RFP, be sure to list all the types of content you intend to archive. (Do this early on, in the business case section.) Many application vendors have taken steps to make sure their products will work with particular CAS solutions, so its important to take a careful look at CAS vendors interoperability lists. Any application outside that list will require extra effort to become CAS-friendly.

Following are some questions that should appear on an RFP for CAS solutions.

Data Support

* What kinds of data can be imported?

* Does your product have file service support (Common Internet File System, Network File System and so on)?

* Does your product support e-mail archiving? If so, for what platform?

• Microsofts Exchange

• IBMs Lotus Domino

• Novells GroupWise


* Please list available CAS APIs.

* Please list the applications supported by your CAS system.

* Will your product be adding support for XAM (Extensible Access Method)? In what time frame? (Please be specific.)

* Does your product support JSR-170?

The Storage Networking Industry Associations XAM will standardize APIs between applications and CAS systems. JSR-170 allows applications to maintain a shared repository of data.


* Is there a single console for managing the overall health of the CAS system and for detecting and solving problems in nodes?

* Does the CAS system automatically take steps to compensate for a disk, power supply or total node failure?

* When cells/nodes are added, do they autoconfigure themselves?

* Describe how the CAS system alerts IT managers to potential problems.

Content Management & Security

* Which directory systems are supported?

* Is file encryption supported? If yes, what type?

* Does the CAS system provide an audit trail?

* Does the product provide a digital time stamp?

* Does the product expire data?

* Does the product perform digital shredding? If yes, is digital shredding performed to Department of Defense levels?

Hardware Support

* What is the maximum number of cells/nodes that can be added?

* What is the maximum number of files supported?

* What is the maximum amount of storage?

* What is the power consumption per node?

* Does the product include any power-saving features?

CAS solutions are essentially stacks of servers. Unlike traditional archive mediums such as tape and optical storage, CAS solutions consume a fair amount of power while generating heat.


* How does your CAS system enable content search?

* What search engines are included?

Cost/Benefit Analysis

* What does the product cost, including base cost and costs for additional features?

* What is the impact of adding additional storage?

* What cost advantages will our organization realize by choosing this solution?

CAS solutions have complex licensing schemes based on hardware, the type of content archived and the number of users. Be sure to compare prices among vendors based on your desired configuration, not just the base price.

Data Protection

* Does your CAS system have site-to-site replication capabilities?

* Does your CAS solution have the ability to back up to tape or optical mediums (for off-site storage)?

Storage Optimization

* Does your solution support Single Instance Storage?

* What storage optimization features does your product have?

* How will storage optimization improve in the future?


Please provide references from customers that have completed a similar deployment, with similar numbers of users and applications, in the same industry.


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