Interview

SD2002: Prigmore's pointers on buying storage

Kevin Komiega

How has the storage market changed and how has it affected the end user's ability to negotiate the best price per megabyte?
There are a couple of events that have occurred in storage that really changed IT's ability to efficiently procure storage. First, we have the association of storage to servers and applications and departments that was very well defined prior to networked storage (NAS and SAN) that has now become quite dynamic. This has introduced software and networking elements into the typical storage solution which make the simple price per mb metric ineffective. At the same time IT has had to deal with a capacity growth issue which strains IT resources and puts pressure on overall management and ownership costs. So the net challenge today is combining real world quantifiable assumptions of TCO with traditional price comparisons to optimize the decision making process. Is there a particular strategy you would recommend to a storage buyer to put the odds in their favor?
If time allows, and we understand it always does not, we strongly encourage clients to frame their decision in a way that allows them to assign relative value to various elements of the storage solution that most likely align with their environment's particular needs. This is common sense/back to basics for most IT and Procurement professionals but is frequently overlooked. It can be particularly helpful if this is drafted prior to engaging vendors and then used as a blueprint during

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the negotiation process to stay the course of what is important to you...not the vendor's features. At the same time, the negotiation process is actually an excellent opportunity to learn from the vendors what they have seen work elsewhere and we always recommend a strong reference/diligence process. How can end users get the best value out of hardware and software in today's market?
The best examples of clients extracting maximum value from storage solutions always lead back to services planning. When we advise IT professionals, we strongly urge that they demand multiple meetings with each vendor's professional services staff that would be performing the design, implementation or migration services. While making the right technology decision is important, it is actually a bit easier today because the market is more mature and most products are actually solid and proven. The same can not be said for services delivery where there are limited pockets of really good talent and this is what actually delivers the value of storage back to the business [in the form of] a properly designed, documented and implemented solution that works hand in hand with resident IT. Has the recent trend toward interoperability helped or harmed the end users ability to bargain?
Interoperability is important to the extent that it insures vendors will play nice long term. There is actually very little impact to the decision making cycle today...nor should there be. IT professionals are smart enough to know that interoperability is a requirement for vendors to be considered and not some level of functionality that they should pay a premium for. Let us know what you think about the story, e-mail Kevin Komiega, News Writer

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