The Value of SNW: No Bias, No Bull
by Hu Yoshida on Apr 8, 2009
In times of economic down turns, many companies are cutting discretionary spending such as travel to events like Storage Networking World. If you are an IT person considering an acquisition of storage networking systems, you might want to consider the value that can come out of attending an event like SNW.
This was brought home in a presentation by Clint VanWinkle, IT Operations Manager for Holland and Knight LLP. His presentation at SNW was entitled “Case Study: Selecting a Tier 1 Enterprise SAN – No Bias, No Bull. In this presentation Clint reviewed the difficulties he experienced in selecting a vendor for a Tier 1 Enterprise SAN that could scale to meet his rapid data growth and high performance and availability requirements.
He began with a market scope assessment of 7 storage vendors and found that the information was not readily available and competitive information provided by vendors was not always accurate. There was a lot of FUD.
Clint finally narrowed it down to 3 vendors who he called vendors A, B, and C and he focused on three key areas.
The first was a 60 month TCO which included, power and cooling requirements, weight distribution, and 5 year cost of software and hardware maintenance. Power, cooling, and weight were important since, like many companies in the Florida Hurricane zone, they find it more cost effective to use a Tier IV collocation facility than to build and maintain their own, but the charges for the colo are based on the power, cooling and floor space load.
Other things they considered were the long term vision of the company. What they were doing for virtualization and tiered storage, routine maintenance costs, and upgrade costs. They also considered SPC, Storage Performance Council, participation to be important.
The final criterion was input from other customers. Their decision was heavily influenced by other customers that they talked to at the previous Fall SNW. They sat down with customers of each of the three vendors and asked two questions:
If you had to do it over again, would you?
Have you ever experienced data loss during a firmware upgrade?
Based on the answers they got at Fall SNW 2008, they decided on vendor B. Clint’s’ recommendation is to talk to people who won’t give you any Bias or Bull, and the most convenient place to find them for storage is among the IT folks who attend events like SNW. SNW is a non-vendor user conference so you will find customers from all the venders and they will tend to be more candid than at a vendor sponsored user conference.
Hu, I am happy to say that this is one of my customers and I was the architect that implemented this solution. It was a blast working with the team at H+K and I look forward to many more projects in the future.