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Smart storage shopping requires understanding vendor contracts

When it comes to selecting a flash storage vendor, says one insider, it’s wise to understand some of the age-old sales tricks and techniques.

Jeff Rowe | Apr 16, 2018 12:00 am

As the cost of flash storage continues to settle into a pattern of steep discounts, affordability is taking a back seat to simplicity in conversations between storage providers and customers.

That’s according to Bill Miller, CEO of X-IO Storage, who, in a recent commentary at Data Center Dynamics, notes that while “the appeal for all-flash environments has become undeniable as prices drop for a storage solution that is more stable and faster than traditional spinning disks,” customers are also finding that their options are becoming extremely competitive and similar. 

To get at the distinctions between flash storage options, Miller recommends, first, that customers make sure they and their potential vendor have a mutual understanding of workloads and expected ratios.

“Even as we all prepare for massive data volumes created by IoT and more extended data retention requirements, companies can be lulled into a false sense of comfort by deduplication offerings,” he notes. “Vendors may take different approaches to compress and deduplicate workloads in an all-flash setting, which can affect performance and quality. Because you know your environment better than anyone else, make sure to engage directly with the vendor, so you are both on the same page when it comes to ratios and workloads.”

At the same time, he says, customers should buy with an eye to a future and insist upon flexible upgrade options.

“We all know that IT can start with three initiatives at the beginning of the year and have three more added by the business six months later,” he observes, adding, “There’s also the need to respond to industry innovations that create new demand and new opportunities.”

So he advises storage customers to make sure they’ll “have the flexibility to adjust performance and capacity to take advantage of changes in the market or within their organizations. Find a vendor that can allow you to grow at your pace and enables you to purchase for growth upfront or when you need it.”

Other tips include ensuring there are no hidden costs waiting a year or so into the contract, being clear on maintenance terms and insisting on a test drive, the option to use a solution “on a trial basis without the pain of generating a purchase order.”

The good news for storage buyers, says Miller, is there’s a huge amount of choice out there. But it’s best “to make that all-important decision based on facts rather than hype.”

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