Top Five Things to Look For in a Storage Guarantee Program

By Adam Fore

Many vendors offer guarantee programs that promise savings in storage for virtualized environments. However, when you peel back the covers of most of these programs you discover limitations that severely diminish their claims of 25% to 50% savings.

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Not so with NetApp. Our 50% virtualization guarantee is the industry gold standard—often copied, but never equaled. We introduced the NetApp Virtualization Guarantee Program in 2008 and have always based it on real-world data gathered through AutoSupport™, the NetApp “phone home” service that automates and accelerates service delivery for our customers.

With My AutoSupport, detailed storage efficiency information is available to all of our customers on a self-serve basis. If a customer is new to NetApp, we can share aggregate results for more than 200,000 systems or generate a custom view for a particular industry or use case, such as server virtualization. The detailed, real-world data we collect and analyze has enabled us to expand the NetApp Virtualization Guarantee Program and extend it over time.

What should you look for in a virtualization guarantee program? Here are five filters that you can use to compare guarantees:

  1. Are the savings based on a single technology? As the saying goes, when your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. While every bit helps, a single approach, such as thin provisioning, can take you only so far. NetApp offers a number of storage efficiency technologies that you can use individually or in combination to reduce the amount of storage you will need.
  2. Will you actually implement the technology? Theoretical savings don’t pay the bills. For example, if you can turn on deduplication only by enabling thin LUNs and disabling other desirable features, then your “guaranteed savings” may go from 30% to zero, or even negative. NetApp pioneered many of today’s storage-efficiency technologies, which are designed to work together and have become the default settings for most of our customers. For example, 97% of all of our customers’ FAS systems employ NetApp Snapshot™ technology, 95% use NetApp RAID DP® and more than 80% of systems in virtualized environments have enabled deduplication.

    Conversely, you also want to be able to turn features off, and at as granular a level as possible. For example, some data can be deduplicated nicely but actually expands if compressed with traditional techniques. NetApp makes it possible to mix and match efficiency technologies as needed to get the best results.

  3. Are you guaranteed savings for multiple storage protocols, hypervisors and platforms? Today's virtual and private cloud environments place a premium on flexibility, and the ability to quickly implement IT projects can have a big impact on time-to-market and time-to-revenue. However, the premium on flexibility does not usually come with extra budget. Efficiency guarantees that are limited to specific protocols (NFS-only, block protocols only); hypervisors (VMware only); or platforms (backup only, mid-range only) may evaporate when the next project comes along.

    The NetApp Unified Storage Architecture enables you to take full advantage of our storage-efficiency technologies across multiple protocols and hypervisors and across our entire family of FAS platforms. In addition, those savings can be preserved when you replicate data to another FAS system for disaster recovery copies or backups, so precious network bandwidth is minimized and you don’t need extra space for “rehydration” (reverse deduplication).

  4. Can your vendor help you achieve similar savings for your legacy storage systems? After we introduced our 50% savings guarantee, we documented the efficiencies that our customers realized while using NetApp controllers to virtualize storage from other vendors, such as EMC, HDS and HP. As a result, we introduced a 35% guarantee for non-NetApp equipment, another industry first. We actually guarantee you will use less storage when using NetApp technology with another vendor’s storage.
  5. Will the vendor still be in business next year? This may sound like FUD, but it is simply a fact of life in the storage industry. This article reviews storage startups in 2013 and also documents the long odds against success for most of them (only 3% ever go public). If your vendor closes up shop, you can be stuck with a worthless guarantee as well as an impaired storage investment. NetApp passed through this risky stage nearly 20 years ago, well before we introduced our guarantee, and the company has since grown to become one of the Fortune 500®.

One final note: Like the "money back guarantees" offered by some consumer products companies, many vendors are banking on the fact that you will never go back and evaluate your savings against the guarantee. At NetApp, we give you detailed information to monitor your progress via My AutoSupport and other tools, so you can see exactly how much storage you’re saving.

Read more information about our industry-leading storage-efficiency technologies.

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