What you need to know to set up a SAN -- Part 2

How much does it cost to set up a SAN. I am actually representing my school and doing a report. However, I would...

like to state that your information on the topic might result in actually setting up a storage area network at my school.

Click here for Part 1.

Your RFI list should contain the above questions. Use the answers that you receive for these questions as the criteria for choosing your storage vendor. The questions should be submitted to a large cross section of companies that develop or integrate storage products. The answers submitted by each company should give you a feel for how the vendor fits into your strategy for making storage purchase decisions. By weeding out the companies whose products or services aren't a good fit, you can develop a short list of companies that you'll feel comfortable doing business with.

For instance, if you find out from a vendor regarding company viability that this is a start-up company and perhaps this company is currently looking for another round of funding, you might want to look elsewhere if you feel it might not be around much longer.

After you have a short list of companies defined, you want to get more details on their capabilities to determine whether the vendor's products can solve your business problems. You need to make sure that the vendor's service organization has the technical expertise to support you -- and if you're a global company, that the vendor has facilities located at sites worldwide located near your facilities. You also want to make sure that the vendor has a good training program so that you can become self sufficient with its products. The answers to questions like this will help you get a good feel for whom you're doing business with.

But these are not the only questions that you need to ask. On top of the general questions listed above, you need to know a lot of details on how equipment actually works, what its capabilities are, and the total cost of the proposed solution.

When you create your RFI, try to include as much information as you can about your current environment and what you're trying to achieve to help the vendor to make a more informed proposal. An RFI is a two-way street. The more information that you can provide, the better responses you are likely to receive.

Tip -- Use the RFI wisely and pare down your selected list of vendors to at least three. Have those vendors create proposals for the solution that you seek. Look over each proposal carefully and choose the best two. Have those two vendors ship some equipment to your site for a try and buy. Tell the vendors that if you like what you see and if their products live up to the hype, you'll buy them.

Warning -- Never buy anything without first trying it out especially with a large investment like you need for a storage area network (SAN). If the SAN vendor's equipment doesn't perform the way that the salesperson said that it would, have that vendor take it away and look for another vendor.

By the way, some vendors only sell direct and others work through various "value added re-sellers" of their equipment. If multiple re-sellers respond to your RFI, all proposing the same equipment, make sure you do your homework to find out which ones actually DO add value.

Hope this helps!


Editor's note: Do you agree with this expert's response? If you have more to share, post it in one of our .bphAaR2qhqA^0@/searchstorage>discussion forums.

This was first published in September 2003

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