By Kyle Christopher
Choosing the right NetApp storage system for your environment is not an easy task. Moreover, making the wrong decision could be catastrophic on several fronts. You simply cannot afford to buy storage twice, and the responsibility lies squarely on the shoulders of the IT Director to make the right decision the first time. Going back to ask for more money for yet another storage solution not only makes you look bad, it makes you look incompetent.
On the other hand, doing the proper prep work before you invest in a storage solution will make you a lot more confident in your decision(s), resulting in a very successful storage implementation. We are here to make sure this happens.
This article will help you start off on the right foot. Also, be sure to download the free white paper found at the end of this article entitled “The Insider’s Guide to Purchasing a NetApp Storage System.”
Are you actively considering a NetApp system? If so, you are already moving in the right direction. Among storage vendors, NetApp is one of the easier systems to set up and manage. Especially if you are considering your first SAN or do not have the resources to design and maintain your infrastructure, NetApp systems offer simplicity, automation and hands-free approach to storage design. However, not all NetApp systems are a good fit for every environment.
Here are a few tips to help you decide which NetApp system is right for you.
1. Define Your Service Level Agreements (SLA)
An increasing practice among businesses of all shapes and sizes is to employ SLA-like requirements to business applications. In turn, this will drive your storage requirements. SLAs no longer only apply to hosting companies or other service providers. For example, Microsoft Exchange now requires 99.9% uptime while only allowing for scheduled maintenance windows.
2. Define Your Business Objectives and Prioritize Them
Your business objectives with regard to your storage design will look different from that of another company. For example, if you do not have dedicated storage personnel, your number one priority will be ease of use. Your business objectives will also include not only the applications and hardware that support your business, but also personnel and budgetary issues. How much money and personnel do you really have to devote to your storage?
3. Make Use of Storage Tiers
Utilizing storage tiers will help your business save money and provide higher levels of service with any given storage data set. You should limit some applications to top-tier storage to ensure greater bandwidth for those applications. Limiting low-tier applications to slower drives will increase the ROI (return on investment) of your storage infrastructure and reduce TCO (total cost of ownership).
4. Plan for Product and Service Growth
Always plan for incremental growth of your business, not only with regard to revenue, but also with regard to data consumption. Perform trending analyses and track the change rate for backups. Forecast this for two to five years’ time and see what storage you will require. It’s better to purchase now what you will need for the future. Otherwise, you could find yourself going back and purchasing again and again, possibly doubling the cost of investment in your infrastructure. Plan for growth now.
5. Plan for Unanticipated Growth
Growing companies usually take on more IT projects, not less. Inevitably, a project will be assigned with little to no resources available. If you’re planning your storage infrastructure now, why not invest for the unanticipated now? Otherwise, will you be prepared to purchase yet another storage solution when a new project pops up?
6. Determine Failover Requirements
What is the acceptable performance for your storage system during a failover event? Are you prepared to experience significant performance degradation? Is this something your business and your customers can afford to withstand? IT departments are now requiring 100% performance during failover events. What level of performance degradation can you reasonably withstand?
7. Prepare a Detailed Requirements Document
Poor storage environments always start with poor storage requirements. How have you collected and organized your requirements for usable storage, redundancy and performance? If you need help, be sure to download our 10-step checklist for planning your next storage upgrade.
8. Ensure Scalability
Even after planning for future growth, leave yourself room to grow. System limits vary, with “full capacity” usually between 60 – 80% of stated capacity. By allowing additional headroom for disks and processing, you will simply be able to add capacity instead of starting from scratch when you reach capacity.
9. Downtime Costs You Money
A single hardware failure can take down hundreds or thousands of users and cost upwards of millions of dollars in lost revenue per hour. In addition, outages often result in loss of credibility and trust, not to mention possible loss of jobs. A poorly informed decision with regard to your storage environment could also cause you to go back and purchase more storage, dramatically increasing your costs. Paying a little more up front could save you tens of thousands down the road. Invest wisely in your storage environment.
10. One Sizes Fits No One
Not all NetApp solutions are a good fit for your business. NetApp is a for-profit company, so they build and design products to appeal to a broad range at effective prices. The result is a cookie-cutter approach requiring the customer to customize a solution themselves to match specific business needs. You will likely save more money and time by customizing up front and not investing in specific hardware that will not best serve your environment.
In conclusion, have you adequately planned for your next NetApp purchase? Download our new white paper entitled “The Insider’s Guide to Purchasing a NetApp Storage System.” This white paper provides detailed specifications across recent generations of NetApp hardware. In addition, you will also receive information about the various features NetApp systems offer. We also offer advice on ways to save money on your investment while receiving the best maintenance and support available.
In the meantime, please contact us with any questions you may have about your specific requirements. We are available by phone Monday through Friday, 9 am – 5 pm Eastern. We look forward to speaking with you.