Howard has a piece titled ‘Separating Storage Startups From Upstarts’; it actually feels more like a piece on how to be a technology buyer and how to be a savvy buyer. As someone who on occasion buys a bit of technology or at least influences buying decisions…here’s some of my thoughts.
List price from any vendor is completely meaningless; most vendors only seem to have list prices to comply with various corporate governance regimes. And of course having a list price means that the procurement department can feel special when they’ve negotiated the price down to some stupidly low percentage of the original quote; in a world where 50%+ discounts are common, list is nonsense.
What is true is that often a start-ups list price will be lower than the traditional vendor; it’s got to be even to start a conversation.
In my experience; the biggest mistake an end-user can make is not being willing to take any bid competitive; dual supplier type arrangements are good but often can lead to complexity in an environment. If you can split your infrastructure into domains; say for example you buy all your block from one vendor and your file from another vendor..or perhaps, you have a tiering strategy that allows you to do something similar.
But loyalty can bring rewards as well; partnership is thrown around but learning to work with your vendor is important. Knowing which buttons to press and learning how a vendor organisation works is often key to getting the most out of infrastructure procurement.
Howard’s assertion about a three-year life of an array in a data centre? This doesn’t seem to ring true for me and many of my peers; four-five years seems to the minimum life in general. If it were three years, we would generally be looking at an actual two-year useful life of an array; six months to get on, two years running and six months to get off. Many organisations are struggling with four years and as arrays get bigger; this is getting longer.
And the pain of going through a technology refresh every three years; well we’d be living in a constant sea of moving data whilst trying to do new things as well. So my advice, plan for a five year refresh cycle…
My advice to any technology buyer is to pay close attention to the ‘UpStarts’ but also pay attention to your existing relationships; know what you want and what you need. Make sure that any vendor or potential vendor can do what they say; understand what they can do when there are problems. Test their commitment and flexibility.
Look very carefully at any new offering from anyone; is it a product or a feature? If it is a feature; is it one that is going to change your world substantially? Violin arguably fell into the trap of being a feature; extreme performance…it’s something that few really need.
And when dealing with a new company; understand where their sales-culture has come from…if you had a bad experience with their previous employer, there’s a fair chance that you might have a similar experience again.