SD2003: Planning for a storage array purchase and developing an RFP

Develop a strategy, set your requirements, narrow your targets and make a selection. Those are the steps Evaluator Group partner and SearchStorage.com expert Randy Kerns recommends when it comes time to submit a request for proposal (RFP) to a storage array vendor.

Kerns conducted a workshop on the legwork required to develop RFPs for storage arrays at the Storage Decisions 2003 conference in Chicago.

When developing a strategy, Kerns said you have to take a step back and figure out exactly what is needed for your specific infrastructure. Do you need a storage area network (SAN)? Do you need network-attached storage (NAS)?

In either case, Randy recommended you build out a matrix that pulls all of the specs in one place -- then play a little round robin. Instead of looking at all of the potential arrays at once, try to narrow it down to product A vs. product B, then product A vs. product C, product B vs. C, and so on. This way, you don't miss out on an equal, side-by-side comparison of the products.

Once you narrow down the products internally -- then Randy said the hard part begins.

"Politics trump any technical situation," said Kerns. "You have to understand the business environment and the legal ramifications."

Kerns noted that even after you go through all of the work to narrow down your technology choice, it may not be as simple as just rubber-stamping a purchase. Legalities -- especially in the government sector -- pose

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increased roadblocks to a final purchase that will satisfy your requirements. Internal politics also play a factor.

Presentation slides and other links to the full session proceedings are available here.

About the speaker: Randy Kerns is senior partner at The Evaluator Group.

With over 28 years experience in the development of storage products, The Evaluator Group's Storage Area Network and Network Attached Storage analysis Randy Kerns delivers is a natural fit for the Storage Decisions conference.

Mr. Kern's background includes a bachelor's degree in computer science from the University of Missouri at Rolla and a master's degree in computer engineering from the University of Colorado. He has worked for IBM, Fujitsu, as Vice President of Engineering at the Array Technology subsidiary of Tandem Computers and as Director of Engineering for Enterprise Disk at Storage Technology Corporation. Product development that Randy has been involved in includes both disk and tape subsystems for those companies.

This was first published in September 2003

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