Purchasing Professional Storage Services


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One of the largest costs associated with storage hardware and software acquisition is purchasing the services to integrate the hardware and software into your working environment. When you purchase hardware and software storage solutions you often have to make a choice in terms of who will handle integrating all the pieces and making the new architecture work as expected. Your typical choices are:

  • The hardware or software vendor’s professional services (PS) organization

  • The hardware/software provider or integrator who might sell you the solution and their internal PS group (integrators occasionally contract to the vendors for part of the work)

  • An independent contractor who has no relationship to the vendor or the integrator selling the hardware and software

  • Training your own staff for the task

In many cases your selection be a combination of some of the above choices, but the most important issue is determining the fastest and most cost-efficient use of resources given what you purchase. In other words, which group (or groups) is best equipped to get the job done at the best price?

(Author’s note: As an independent storage consultant I have tried to look at the marketing without rose-colored glasses and with an unbiased view given all of the issues surrounding storage consulting. I believe we all have biases, so it is best to be up front and let everyone know what they are. Hopefully, I have overcome my biases.)

This article is the first in a two part series on storage architecture and professional services.

Who to Choose?

Given the right situation I could easily make a case for each of the groups being the best available option, so it depends on the situation. Of course, you always have the potential situation of the occasional bad consultant or representative from any of the groups, but that situation, in my experience at least, is quite uncommon.

Therefore, if any one of these groups could be the best, how then do you decide who to use, when to use them, and how to interview each of the candidate organizations? The best way to approach the problem is not to start by looking at each of the organization’s pros and cons, but rather to look at the problem you are trying to solve and the timeframe you are trying to solve it in.

What’s Included?

Before starting the process, it’s a good idea to find out exactly what you get with what you have purchased. In many cases, hardware and software vendors include some level of services with the purchase of new solutions. Services are often included because the vendors want to make sure that you get value from their products, and they place the most trust in those certified to represent their product appropriately.

As a result, it’s important to ask what exactly you get, as sometimes if you do not specifically ask for it, the bundled price for services will not break out what you get as part of the hardware and software purchase. From my experience with hardware vendors, you often get the bare minimum of installing the hardware and ensuring that it’s operational.

The key point is to verify what’s specifically included in the purchase as well as what isn’t included. It is also a good idea to ask about what training is included or available for the products and the schedule and location of the training centers.

Page 2: Situational Analysis

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