The Price of High-End Appliances

Analysis: An increasing number of vendors are trying to sell their high-end solutions as appliances. One example is Hewlett-Packard's RISS (Reference Information Storage System).

Its amazing to think that a product that scales to hundreds of processors and stores petabytes of data can be considered an "appliance," but this is the way an increasing number of vendors are trying to sell their high-end solutions.

I am currently evaluating one of these behemoths—Hewlett-Packards RISS (Reference Information Storage System). Im finding that this content-addressed storage solution has dozens of compelling features, but Im looking beyond that to the sacrifices you end up making when going the appliance route.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read an interview with HP StorageWorks CTO Mike Feinberg.

Appliances like the RISS show up preconfigured and cabled for quick deployment, eliminating the need to waste an entire day unpacking and racking the gear. They therefore cater to the busy IT managers desire to have a "single throat to choke" when things go wrong.

The convenience gained from an appliance, however, can come at a steep price—the dreaded vendor lock-in that most IT managers seek to avoid.

Inventive IT pros who love to tinker and formulate their own best-of-breed solutions will abhor the hardware and software inflexibility of an appliance. Appliances force you, for example, to buy only hardware approved by the vendor if you run out of resources (storage or processing power).

While the idea of just beaming one of these appliances down to the data center is truly seductive, it is not the type of thing you will be able to swap out if you suffer from buyers remorse in the future.

My full review of the HP RISS will appear in the April 24 issue of eWEEK and online at

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