If you need to make an informed decision on a solution provider based on a ton of information from the sales and...
marketing firehoses, refer to this five point checklist. This is something that I found very nicely done by someone in a previous SearchStorage.com discussion. I've added to/modified it, and it may prove useful:
1. Collect all the information you can get on the storage and systems currently implemented in your company.
This includes hardware (server and storage), operating systems, applications, amount of storage used now, amount of storage needed in 12 months, any special problems or wishes concerning storage and backup/restore functionalities, as well as how many and how much of everything is out there.
Try to find out how high your storage costs are, including hardware, software, backup/restore and amount of time spent managing storage.
Keep in mind that there may be additional licenses you will have to buy (and pay to maintain!) for different features.
Ask yourself the following questions:
And so forth. The more you know, the more you learn about what is really important.
2. Classify your requirements
3. Write a request for proposal (RFP) and send it to all the companies you're interested in.
Ask them as many questions as you can and need, but ask them in a way that you can compare the answers (e.g. do you support remote boot? Yes or no?). Make tables with the questions above and things like:
It might be difficult comparing the answers but at least you get hold of some information you need.
IMPORTANT! When you ask them for a technical presentation get your decision makers, application support people and networking people to participate. Narrow things down to two or three vendors and look at it as an educational process. Don't ask about other vendors solutions. In fact, forbid anything that might be FUD. If they can't win on their own merits at least don't let them cloud your ability to objectively compare other solutions that might be better/lower in cost.
If you use a "standardized" question sheet, force them to use it also. It's hard enough trying to compare the systems without them sending you tons of shiny sales sheets.
4. Make a "decision matrix"
Take all the questions and answers from the bid and compare them as best you can. Make a matrix for hardware and software. Ask about maximum number of terabytes, links, FC ports, LUNs per controller, LUNs per port, maximum cache, cache mirroring and software remote mirroring. Does it use remote copy, HARC, Nanocopy, SRDF, PPRC or switched fabric or all components? What HBAs do they recommend? Which switch or director? How do they monitor the system? Do they support attached platforms and applications? How do licensing costs change for different features (i.e. Is it capacity-based or host-CPU-based licenses? Will it cost more as your capacity increases?)
Collect all information on management software: what is field/end user serviceable/changeable and what will the manufacturer have to perform?
What is absolutely necessary for you (price, availability, connectivity, performance, ease of use)?
What is nice to have?
About the author: Joel Lovell is a SearchStorage.com expert and strategic storage networking specialist for Sistina Software with more than 14 years of IT industry experience. His areas of expertise include high performance, business continuity and massively scalable storage solutions for the enterprise. Ask him your data management and consolidation questions today.