In addition to seeking product features that meet your requirements, here's a short checklist of questions you should ask every storage management software firm before dedicating your time and resources toward any SRM solution.
1. Customer References -- Does anyone even use the product? Look carefully. Some SRM companies disguise their storage management references with users of other products the company makes. Look for recent case studies from reputable organizations.
2. Independent, Unedited Lab Reviews -- Does the product even work? Ask for unedited copies of independent, third-party lab reviews by trusted sources such as eWeek labs, Windows 2000 Magazine and others. If they don't have any positive lab reviews, the company may be hiding something.
3. Real-Time Monitoring -- What good is a storage management software solution that only monitors your storage part of the time? You need a solution with a real-time finger on the pulse of your storage, without incurring unnecessary delays. It's only real-time if you're monitoring it before the data touches the storage device.
4. Storage Management Control -- Many storage management products can only provide reactive storage management. At the end of the day, you need something that is proactive, allowing you to control the problem before it becomes a problem. Ask the ISVs if they can do anything to prevent the storage problem. After all, it really isn't management if you can only be in reactive mode all the time. Management means preventing the problem, not just reacting to it.
5. Outstanding Support -- Put the company's support to the test. WAs it responsive? How was its Web support? Don't overlook this important factor in your buying decision.
6. Patented Technologies -- Look for innovative products that have patented technologies. Those that don't have patented technology could be either offering a cheap substitute for the real thing, or could be in the middle of a lawsuit. If the latter is the case, buying from them would be extremely risky (particularly if they have to turn over their code and ask their customers to de-install the illegal product).
7. Product Awards -- Save yourself from having to reinvent the wheel. Which products have won industry awards in side-by-side comparisons and customers' choice awards? Steer clear of any that haven't.
8. Track Record -- Good products make good news. Lousy products get little coverage. The trade rags want to tell their readers about proven, successful technologies, not lemons. Scan the ISVs' websites for lots of good news stories. Sites that lack these are probably hiding something, or the press doesn't see the products as mature enough to deserve valuable ink.
9. Global Presence -- If you're not global now, you probably will be some time in the future in this global economy. Look for an ISV with local offices around the world.
10. Reputable Partners -- Look for solid partnerships with reputable organizations. Who is licensing the company's technology? Who is distributing it? Who is bundling it? If nobody will partner with them, there may be a reason.
Steve Toole is Vice President of Marketing for W Quinn. He is also one of our resident storage management experts. Steve brings with him years of experience in Windows NT/2000 servers. If you've got a storage management question, send it along to Steve .