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Product differentiation

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.

When comparing product offerings from different vendors, there are usually some differences beyond price. Features,...

performance, connectivity and so on are all things that we look at. Depending on the type of solution, there may be more differentiating elements. What that means is: Comparing a NAS device to a block storage SAN device would have fundamental differences that make device comparison more of a secondary issue. It is more important to look at a solution level and see how one particular method would meet the requirements vs. another. It becomes even more complex with an object-based storage device because of the abstraction of storage location and identification that today is exploited by specific applications.

It comes down to a top-down approach at looking at solutions to meet requirements. First the requirements have to be understood, and then the different approaches and the infrastructures involved need to be analyzed for their ability to meet the requirements. Once that is resolved, then individual vendor offerings and the characteristics can be examined. From that, a comparison can be done and the differences can be examined to help guide a customer in making the right purchasing decision. There are some free comparison workbooks available on our Web site that might help. Ultimately, it boils down to this: You have to do your homework or engage someone to help you do it.

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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