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Looking at the cost of purchasing SAN/NAS storage

What is the average cost per MB to purchase SAN or NAS storage and what is the annual average cost per MB to manage it? I realize that prices vary but, just looking for a generalized average.

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The price per MB varies greatly, depending on the solution you buy.

SAN will obviously cost more, since it requires all the hardware and software "plumbing" needed to connect everything together and manage it properly. NAS price per MB can be much cheaper, but you need to be cautious with the reliability of the underlying disks that the NAS hardware is attached to.

The usual price range I have been seeing over the past year or so is between .02 and .25 cents per MB depending on whether it's a low-end disk subsystem that is direct connected to the hosts, a mid-range solution with redundant controllers and other RAS features, that use multiple 16-32 port switches for the SAN fabric, and high-end mainframe connected solutions where all the data is replicated to a recovery site through the SAN.

The most expensive part of these solutions tends to be the software licenses for the cool stuff. Things like instant data snapshots of production volumes, data replication hardware and software (don't forget the expensive remote links!), automated backup solutions, element/fabric management software, path failover software licenses, instant recovery solutions, premier service contracts, etc.

All these things add up. When you price out a storage solution, companies that tout very low price per meg may be misleading you. You need to make sure the solution comes with everything you need to actually use and manage it, make sure it has a warranty period or service contract that meets your requirements and has no "re-occuring" costs during the useful lifetime of the product. These re-occuring costs can add up to a heck of a lot more total cost of ownership and therefore REAL price per MB.

Chris

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This was first published in February 2003

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