How to Prevent Costly, Unplanned Storage Box Purchases

prevent-costly-storage-box-swaps-post-webEvery week, I hear the same complaint from storage customers. They’re sick and tired of playing what they call the storage vendor box-swap game.

The way this works is simple. A storage hardware vendor – NetApp, EMC, HDS, Name-Your-Box – sells you a storage array with a five-year lifespan. You plan your budget assuming you won’t have to buy another box for at least five years. But there’s a catch. The box comes with a three-year support agreement. As the end of the three years approaches, the vendor hikes up the price of the maintenance contract.

Sure, they offer to do you a favor. If you act right away, they just might be able to swap out the old box at the same price. Magically, that new maintenance price is enough to pay for the brand new hardware.

Painting the Golden Gate Bridge

What they’re doing is creating an artificial incentive to trick you into switching. It’s the enterprise storage equivalent of the old-fashioned three-card-monte scam, and companies are tired of losing the shell game.

The resource drain isn’t limited to the massive hidden cost of these forced upgrades. The impact on staff efficiency is even more painful:

  • Once the upgrade-or-pay-up option is presented, IT has to go through a painstaking process of evaluating comps, considering third-party maintenance, checking out alternative vendors and more. Today’s IT teams don’t have spare cycles for this kind of re-work.
  • When you only have a few TBs of data, migrating files from one box to another is manageable. As unstructured data grows to hundreds of TBs with the use of videos, larger and larger CAD files, massive imaging files and more, the whole process becomes far more painful and time-consuming. If you’re in the PBs realm, you start planning your next migration the day after you’ve brought your most recent array online. It’s like painting the Golden Gate Bridge, the project that never ends.
  • Supporting Systems. Your storage hardware doesn’t exist in a vacuum. When you swap your storage box, there’s a strong chance you’ll also need to change your data protection, disaster recovery, networking and other integrated infrastructure earlier than expected. 

A New Era in File Storage

A decade or two ago, enterprise storage technology was evolving at such a rapid rate that it may have made sense to upgrade local storage devices after three years. The improvement in capacity and performance might have been worth the cost.

But all that has changed. Today, faced with the tremendous and often-unpredictable growth of files and unstructured data, the only real option for IT is to move to a utility-based storage model. Companies should pay only for the capacity they use – the same way homeowners pay for electricity or water. You don’t buy the power plant or reservoir, and you shouldn’t have to buy expensive hardware.

“With the advent of cloud and tiered storage, businesses can tier storage needs to business requirements.”

As it turns out, this is also a great way to block the box-swap. With the advent of cloud and tiered storage, businesses can tier storage needs to business requirements all while reducing costs and drastically reducing operational workloads.

Obviously, traditional storage vendors aren’t going to tell you that. Their only goal is to hit their sales targets by playing swap-the-box. They might talk cloud, but the truth is big storage can’t embrace the cloud storage model because it cannibalizes their existing hardware business.

Smart enterprise file storage buyers are learning that with the advent of effective and efficient cloud-based enterprise file systems, storage as a utility is finally possible. In this model, storage is only added where and when it is needed, and storage costs are matched to the needs of the organization, not the sales targets of the box vendor. By harnessing the value and capacity of the cloud, businesses can lower operational costs and finally put an end to these hardware sales games and painful migrations. See how Nasuni can help.