Three Reasons to Update Your Next Storage RFP

by Jim Lyons, NetApp

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The storage industry is in a period of rapid innovation that is creating new options for storage buyers. However, since the lifespan of a storage system typically ranges from three to five years, many storage professionals need to dust off their request-for-proposal (RFP) requirements to capitalize on these new developments. Here are some tips and resources for crafting an updated storage RFP to address the three most commonly cited reasons for buying new storage systems: the need for more capacity, the desire for a technology refresh, and the need for increased performance.1

New Options for Scaling Storage Capacity
In a recent Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) survey, a quarter of respondents selected “need additional capacity and can’t expand existing system(s)” as the top reason for buying and deploying a new storage system. This highlights a drawback of many legacy storage arrays: When they’re full, there’s nowhere to grow. In the best-case scenario, this means planned downtime and an in-place upgrade. In the worst case, it could mean a forklift upgrade and a time-consuming data migration project.

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A new generation of storage systems addresses this challenge with near-infinite scalability for organizations of all sizes. Every major storage supplier offers scale-out NAS and SAN systems, including unified scale-out systems that provide the ability to run multiple storage protocols on a single platform. If you are among the 25% of storage buyers who have run out of headroom to grow your legacy system, you should add a requirement for scale-out storage to your next RFP.

Storage RFP Resources 2

Organization Resource Format
NetApp Storage RFP Builder Mobile/Web App
NetApp An Explanation of IOPS and Latency Blog
SearchStorage Scale-up vs. Scale-out Storage Video Tutorial
SNIA Writing Storage RFPs Online Tutorial
SNIA Storage Tiering Online Tutorial

New Options for Next-Generation Storage Infrastructures
According to IDC, the adoption of converged systems will change, over time, how storage is procured, deployed and utilized.3 Virtualization, private clouds and software-defined data centers are driving rapid adoption of a new model for architecting infrastructure. Like scale-out storage, integrated stacks are already available from every leading storage vendor and range in size from entry-level to petabyte-scale.

For any technology refresh that requires the support of virtualized applications or a private cloud, you should consider a converged storage infrastructure solution as an option for meeting those needs.

New Options for Scaling Storage Performance
Perhaps the hottest development in the storage industry is the widespread use of flash technology to accelerate performance. The question is not whether to use flash technology, but how to best employ flash to optimize performance at a reasonable cost. Your next RFP should provide enough detail on your data access patterns so vendors can tailor a solution to best meet your needs, using server-side flash, hybrid arrays, all-flash arrays or a combination of approaches.

A closely related consideration is whether to leverage tiering software and capacity-optimized drives to reduce the overall cost for your flash-optimized system. While every major vendor offers a tiering solution, there can be significant differences in results based on how frequently these solutions move data and the granularity at which they operate.

NetApp Solutions
An industry leader, NetApp has introduced a number of innovations in the latest release of its clustered Data ONTAP® architecture that enable Infinite scale, Immortal operations and Intelligent data management, including support for unified scale-out, integrated stacks and multiple options for deploying flash. For more information about using Data ONTAP to build an agile data infrastructure for your next storage project, visit the NetApp Tech OnTap® community, which features best practices, technical case studies and in-depth interviews with storage experts.

1 ESG Research Report, 2012 Storage Market Survey, November 2012.

2 Additional tutorials are available at the education area of the Storage Networking Industry Association website.

3 IDC Technology Assessment, The Adoption of Converged Systems and Their Impact on Enterprise Storage Purchasing, November 2012 (#238067).

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