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Making buying decisions

Are you falling victim to the point-product storage solution syndrome? Here are some ways out.

Making buying decisions
By Dave Webb

Enterprise storage management has been and remains a major cost-management issue for IT managers, perhaps more today than ever before. As IT managers try to make the most of their storage resources and save money on up-front costs to implement storage management, they may be tempted to look only at point-product solutions. But some technical storage management experts say to look deeper when making your purchase decisions.

Management vendors say such point solutions may be the lowest-cost option, or may address specific problems that need to be overcome today, but they may also become a management-limiting legacy. Some don't work well with other point products to make a significant impact on a company's bottom line.

When it comes to making the most of your enterprise storage resources, "effective storage management is key," says Tricia Jiang, technical attache with IBM's Tivoli software group. Jiang affirms that it doesn't make sense for enterprises to use point-product storage management unless it is designed to work within a comprehensive management solution suite.

Small mom-and-pop shops may benefit from lower-cost point solutions. But, Jiang says such a "pieces and parts" approach is not the best for the enterprise storage management customer hoping to optimize current storage resources, since these solutions do not always integrate with other management products.

Jiang likens some point solutions to all-or-nothing methods of managing data that don't optimize other resources (such as server hardware or network traffic) to shave operating costs. She added that some do not manage well enough to back up only data that needs backup, as opposed to backing everything up each and every time. Such inefficiencies cost time in addition to burdening resources unnecessarily. "When you do laundry, you only wash dirty or new clothes, not everything in the closet," Jiang says.

What recommendations do Jiang and others have for evaluating a storage management solution? Look not only at how well the product monitors resource utilization during backups, but also whether you can monitor space allocation on disk and tape drives at any given point in time. Such intelligent integrated backup solutions will provide you with hard information, such as: where data is, the quality of the data, how quickly accessible it is, etc.

Gathering this kind of intelligence can help you make better decisions, such as: when to add more capacity, faster storage or improve network-carrying capacity, due to the amount of storage being accessed, Jiang and others maintain.

About the author: Dave Webb is a freelance writer who has been writing about the electronics and computing industry for more than 13 years. He has worked as a bureau correspondent for CMP Media, Cahners and IDG, and with companies such as HP, Seagate, Quantum and National Semiconductor.

Additional Resources:
1. What is the performance basis a user should see while evaluating different storage systems?
Our SAN expert Christopher Poelker offers 11 factors to consider when evaluating performance. Check them out:

2. Is incompatibility a problem?
Read this real-life case study: "Incompatibility freezes grocer's data recovery," by searchStorage at:

3. What is the role of management software in an effective data storage strategy?
User Jim Fernandes offers plenty of advice in this tip:

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