BlogMaking Smart Storage Array Decisions – 10 Questions to Ask Potential Vendors

A recent Gartner report placed NetApp in the leadership quadrant for solid-state arrays, giving the company high marks for addressing ‘next-generation distributed applications, and [targeting] the cloud service provider and enterprise private cloud market segments.’ No doubt, NetApp’s acquisition of SolidFire earlier this year helped elevate it to this position. Not long ago, we posted a blog, Why Choose NetApp-SolidFire All-Flash Storage? Here are five reasons:

  1. Scale-out
  2. Guaranteed performance
  3. Automated management
  4. Data assurance
  5. Global efficiencies

In October, Garner released a paper, The Top 10 Must-Ask Questions When Evaluating Solid-State Storage Arrays. There are a lot of competing flash storage products and providers out there, and while we like the offerings from HDS and NetApp, asking the right questions is paramount to a successful data center modernization.

  1. Should we consider an emerging SSA vendor? Gartner says consolidation will likely push some vendors out. Having a dual-vendor strategy can offer you a purchasing advantage and a safety net.
  2. Is this SSA vendor viable? Choosing a vendor that has a track record of success can indicate the future development, innovation, and customer support that you can expect.
  3. What is the product roadmap and vendor direction? Some smaller, less established vendors are still transitioning from disk array and hybrid storage and have overlapping solutions. This can suggest a short product life.
  4. What impacts do compression and deduplication have on native systems performance? Does the SSA provide user-selectable compression and deduplication? Are data reduction capabilities delivered inline or postprocess? According to Gartner, many applications don’t benefit from data reduction, which can reduce efficiency of the SSA controller and result in low latency for certain workloads.
  5. How can your SSA architecture ensure performance guarantees for multiple and mixed workloads over the install life of the SSA? Be sure that your QoS features allow for future needs and that scaling for mixed workloads doesn’t affect performance.
  6. Is there a single point of failure (SPOF) in the SSA, and what are the availability guarantees? As Gartner mentions, it’s important to understand how many component failures would cause system outage and potential data loss.
  7. How long does it take to install and train personnel, and how easy is it to use and manage the SSA? Arrays that have complex user interfaces and require steep learning curves won’t reduce the storage TCO. Look for simpler solutions unless your team is equipped to handle complexity.
  8. What is the raw, usable and effective pricing per GB? Understanding how vendors estimate price per GB can make a big difference when workloads change or shift.
  9. What is the support and maintenance cost compared to the total SSA cost? To control the total investment in the SSA, be sure to understand what proportion the support and maintenance cost represents of the total cost.
  10. Can the support and maintenance contract be fixed or extended without very high expansion or renewal costs? Watch out for non-fixed maintenance and support costs that could increase (potentially exponentially) over time.

Asking these questions and using proven, established technology consultants can help simplify and shorten the purchasing cycles for your storage needs while addressing your current pain points. 

About the Author

Dustin Smith

Dustin Smith, Chief Technologist

Throughout his twenty-five year career, Dustin Smith has specialized in designing enterprise architectural solutions. As the Chief Technologist at ASG, Dustin uses his advanced understanding of cloud compute models to help customers develop and align their cloud strategies with their business objectives. His master-level engineering knowledge spans storage, systems, and networking.