SMB Data Storage Purchasing Practices: 11 Costly Mistakes

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SMB Data Storage Purchasing Practices: 11 Costly Mistakes

by Chris Preimesberger

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Purchasing Storage Based Solely on the Lowest Price

Most often, cheaper storage arrays require more work and lack a lot of the functionality that SMBs, which typically have limited IT resources, need. This also refers to the purchase of cheap boxes from well-known vendors. Also, keep in mind that many hidden costs are associated with less-expensive hardware, including add-on controller and host software licenses for additional features, and additional license charges for new software functionality introduced over time.

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Focusing Exclusively on Name-Brand Equipment

Beware of hidden costs. They are everywhere. Make sure you know the correct questions to ask when you're evaluating the options. These include asking about the costs to update service contracts and software-license upgrades. What are the costs to upgrade to meet future capacity and performance needs? What are the costs for installation services, and what components should be covered under warranty? Remember to check on the cost for support renewal once the term expires. Then there are the costs for software for features needed in the future, such as replication and virtualization. Dont forget the costs for training and professional services.

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Putting Too Much Focus on Speeds/Feeds

Don't forget: Performance depends on the application and number of users; most SMBs don't need super-high I/O speeds.??í Downtime, even planned, means zero performance—if disruption is necessary to upgrade performance and capacity.

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Believing All SANs Are the Same

All data is not created equal, and neither are storage systems. Understanding hidden costs and key differentiators in features and functionality is important. When reviewing proposals, quotes and configurations, make sure that apples-to-apples comparisons are being made.??í

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Tech People Making Business Decisions

When evaluating storage systems, get involved and make an effort to truly understand and select the best options available. Remember, functionality-like disaster recovery, ease of use and so on-is crucial to business success because one never knows when an IT manager may decide to leave for another job.??íAs the saying goes: "Those who know why will always be more successful than those who know how."

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Not Doing a Thorough Required-Feature Analysis

Ask these questions: Will the system enable managing aggregate capacity across multiple platforms? Will it allow concurrent connectivity to hundreds of hosts, compared with a single attachment? Will it enable automated operations and control of storage from a Web browser? Will it allow 100 percent usable shared storage without the need to buy extra capacity?

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Not Getting Full Functionality

Ask these questions: Does the system have an intelligent self-tuning architecture with advanced cache algorithms? Does the system provide Multi-OS support iSCSI, CIFS (Common Internet File System), NFS (Network File System), snapshots and remote replication; does it use existing Ethernet; and does the investment remain valuable over time? Will the system be able to port to new platforms, have advanced technology, and be easily upgraded and enhanced? In other words, is there investment protection, and is it future-proof?

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Not Doing Comprehensive Operational Cost Analysis

Examples of cost savings over five years: a) 2TB of unused and, thus wasted, capacity at $.01/MB=$20,000; b) Stop replicating the same data on different hosts, 2TB at $.01/MB=$20,000; c) Purchase Fibre Host Bus Adapters and switch ports to connect to a storage area network: $2,000 per server x 10 servers=$20,000; and d) 10 percent of admin time spent on tuning, at $50,000 a year per admin, is $5,000 per year, or $25,000 over five years.

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Not Asking the Following Questions

Does the system provide total redundancy with built-in high-availability failover? Does the system have proactive diagnostics and "hands off" storage management? Does the system auto-tune and optimize performance, using intelligent algorithms? Will the vendor implement effective business-continuance and disaster-recovery plans?

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Not Doing In-Depth Business-Impact Analysis

Ask these questions: Will the system provide software to protect and manage data in a common way? Will the proposed solution enable flexibility in different applications and allow sharing of information quickly while efficiently minimizing cost of additional servers and storage?

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Doing Nothing and/or Staying With a Direct-Attached Disk System

Conventional storage products and solutions cost more to manage, have little to almost no functionality, and deliver minimal financial and operational impact. Thus, they add little business value. Traditional storage products are bound to their particular host CPU and its operating system, file system and logical volume manager, and because the particular host controls conventional storage, it cannot be easily re-deployed between applications and servers as the requirements change.

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