SD2003: Creating RFPs for SAN management solutions

When building a storage management RFP knowing what you want and what you have is the best way to get started on the process. Identify the major criteria you want -- such as increased data availability, compliance, managing costs or another item --and articulate it at the top of your RFP in a high-level statement.

This is the advice given by author and SearchStorage.com Networking A to Z expert Marc Farley in his presentation at Storage Decisions 2003 in Chicago.

Farley also advised attendees to make sure they're using the same language that the vendors use when describing things in your RFP. Using generic language as opposed to proprietary terms can make a big difference in communicating with prospective vendors.

Another important point that Farley made was to make sure that someone from your internal team writes the RFP. He strongly advised against allowing a vendor or a consultant to write your RFP for you. You know best what's in your environment and the existing problems that need to be solved. Plus, you're more likely to avoid potential problems when you draw up the RFP on your own.

Being an author, Farley also noted the importance of deadlines. Establishing deadlines internally as well as with the vendor can help set the guidelines for making a decision. But, before making a decision its critical that you research all of the responses that you get from vendors. Farley advised attendees to ask themselves the following questions when

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dealing with RFPs:

  • Are the terms clear?
  • Are the costs congruent with your budget?
  • How disruptive will the vendor's solution be to your environment?

    After you get a response from a vendor, its important to validate their terms. Ways to validate vendors responses range from using Web-based resources, independent consultants, analysts and your own intuition.

    This was first published in September 2003

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