SD2003: Writing a switch RFP: All we want is everything we can get

Gathering as much information about a switch at the beginning of the request for proposal (RFP) process -- and not the end -- is crucial to making a good purchase decision, says Senior Analyst and Founder of the Data Mobility Group, John Webster.

At Storage Decisions 2003 in Chicago, Webster discussed the features that should go into building a networked storage switch RFP. Most of your effort should focus on preparation, he said. In other words, the first part of the planning process is defining exactly what you want out of your switch architecture.

Webster also said managers should know exactly what is going on with the industry before they can make an informed switch decision. Vendor acquisitions are making the switch space an interesting place to be. Managers should also be aware of the implications to vendors of emerging storage standards such as the Storage Management Initiative specification (SMI-S). They should also track the latest developments in industry organizations such as the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Once you have all of the facts in place, negotiations are the next big step. "Get a line-item cost for everything," said Webster. He recommends that you get quotes for everything from add-ons to maintenance, training and support.

Webster also says if there is any way you can get documentation on how one switch might work in your infrastructure,

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it would be an added bonus. If you are a big enough customer, you'd be surprised at how far a vendor would go to make you happy in the RFP process.

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

About the speaker: John Webster is Senior Analyst and Founder of Data Mobility Group. Mr. Webster is responsible for directing Data Mobility Group's ongoing research into storage management and the management of data from the standpoint of the storage environment. Prior to starting the Data Mobility Group, Mr. Webster was Senior Analyst and IT Advisor for Illuminata, Inc. where he founded and developed Illuminata's storage-related market research and analysis practice.

This was first published in September 2003

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