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This column originally appeared on TechTarget's Expert Answer Center as a post in Randy Kerns' blog. Randy served as the on-demand expert on the Expert Answer Center for two weeks in January 2005, during which he was available to quickly answer questions on network-attached storage as well as to write daily blog entries. Keep an eye on the Expert Answer Center for topics that could help your IT shop.

We always talk about making wise choices regarding storage or storage management software purchases. It is usually a difficult decision because there are so many choices and so many factors that are not simple A vs. B comparisons. We help a lot of people evaluate the products, company strategies and technology and hopefully give them helpful advice. One of the problems I often run into is that someone has "heard" or gotten information that is not quite right. It can be "not quite right" enough to really mislead them or send them down a path that is just wrong for what they need.

Undoing that impression or stilted information is much harder than explaining why things are the way they are and what the attributes are of specific solutions. Sometimes I end up having to talk about the credibility of the source of the information. That is pretty easy, actually. It's just a matter of talking about the experience someone might have had. Was it really in storage? Was it in a position that is meaningful to you? How much experience? What is their background? Do they have some vested interested in a vendor? Tough questions sometimes, but they need to be asked when there has been misinformation given.

The easiest advice is always, "Vet your sources." Do you believe everything that someone might have written in a trade magazine? Lots of simple things to ask. I'm a skeptical person anyway, so it's easy to pass along the questions I would ask. Most of the decisions we make with storage are crucial, and we have to live with them for a long time. It is best to be careful.

Even though Randy's stint on the Expert Answer Center is over, he is always ready to answer your questions on Ask him your most pressing NAS question.

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