So how do you know that you need some type of upgrade in the first place and how do you know what needs to be updated? There can be many different symptoms and indicators, from your phone ringing off the hook to a full e-mail inbox to error messages from applications to lack of memory preventing data from being saved. These are all re-active, or after the fact, signs of the need for some type of upgrade.
The following questions can help you prepare to convince management that it is time for a storage-related upgrade:
- Have you done your homework? Why do you need the upgrade? Have you looked at alternatives? And, what are your evaluation criteria? What objectives (business and IT related) are you addressing with the proposed upgrade?
- What will happen to the business if this upgrade is not performed? Is this a mandatory or discretionary upgrade from a business and non-IT perspective?
- Have you compared alternative solutions including competitive proposals? Have you involved other non-IT people, including finance or legal, to assist in the acquisition process, particularly if a request for quote (RFQ), request for information (RFI) or request for proposal (RFP) was involved?
- Can you defend your selection and the process that lead up to your decision? This is where having someone else involved can be a benefit, so that you are not making or defending your decision alone.
- How will you utilize or dispose of old technology? Who will remove it and when will it be removed? What are the dependencies that need to be resolved to remove it?
- Are there any hidden charges or costs to consider (see separate list below) with regard to the acquisition?
- Is now the best time to be buying? If you wait, will you get a better deal? Will there be an impact to the business if you wait and is it worth the wait?
- Have you negotiated the most effective deal (not necessarily the cheapest) possible that includes all associated costs?
- Will you be purchasing or leasing the technology?
- What is the installation and integration plan and who is involved?
With regard to cost, look beyond the price of the technology (hardware, software, networks and services) that you are looking to acquire. Additional cost items to consider, among others, include:
- Electrical power (on-going) as well as any installation and adapter plugs
- Cooling and ventilation (on-going), as well as any special installation
- Any special equipment, adapters, plenums to meet your environment needs
- Cabinets or rack spaces for housing or mounting of equipment
- Upgrades to fire suppression and environmental monitoring
- Additional software fees, license and on-going maintenance fees
- Upgrades to servers including more memory and I/O adapters
- Media and documentation fees for software along with on-going maintenance fees
- Taxes, finance fees, insurance (shipping and once installed if applicable), shipping and transfer charges and fees
- Installation fees, customization, training, consulting and integration
- Network requirement, server requirements and storage requirements
- Phone and e-mail access for call-home and service
You may only have one chance to sell your upgrade to management so make it count. In addition to talking about return on investment (ROI) and total cost of ownership (TCO), capital expenditures and operating expenditures, present the nonfinancial benefits. Convey what you expect or anticipate for the future to set a level of expectation. This is where having a forecast and plan can be used as a tool to show that you are proactively monitoring and managing resources (inventory) for the business.
In summary, to be successful in convincing your management that it is time to do an IT acquisition or upgrade, make sure you are prepared and anticipate and articulate what you are doing in the context of your business environment. Learn from others, seek out advice and leverage your vendors as partners. Look for effective pricing and not necessarily the lowest cost to enhance overall TCO and ROI -- also known as horizontal TCO and ROI. Be an informed buyer and know your alternatives and when the best time to make your acquisitions to balance the needs of the business and special deals from your vendors.
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About the author: About the author: Greg Schulz is a senior analyst with the Evaluator Group Inc. and author of Resilient Storage Networks, having also contributed material to "Storage" magazine.