Storage Soup

Jul 5 2012   7:13AM GMT

Pros and cons of buying a one-vendor storage solution

Randy Kerns Randy Kerns Profile: Randy Kerns


When buying storage, IT teams often wonder if it is worthwhile to buy a complete package of storage system, management software, data protection and other elements from a single vendor.

Buying everything from one vendor has advantages and disadvantages. The advantages include:

• The solutions are integrated and will work together better than individually acquired products.
• Dealing with a single support organization results in faster resolution of issues and greater concern from the vendor because it has greater responsibility (and greater revenue).
• Cost will be reduced with what is presumed to be a volume purchase.
• There will be fewer vendors to deal with, which takes less time in purchasing and implementing.

The downside includes:

• The costs might be more because customers could end up having to purchase a more expensive component in the package than they would normally select.
• Customers might not get the best individual product available when a bundle is purchased, and buying a bundle might eliminate potentially better solutions from consideration.

Building a complete storage and storage software portfolio has become a major focus in vendor acquisitions. Dell’s recent purchase of Quest Software is a good example. Dell now has storage, storage management, data protection software, and other important software that can be packaged as a complete solution. This makes Dell more competitive with other major vendors who have integrated offerings.

For vendors, selling integrated storage solutions also make sense. These packages bring larger deal sizes, and the amount of money per time invested in the sales opportunity can be much greater. A larger sale also results in a greater footprint (more products sold to a particular customer) for the vendor. With more products (from the integrated solution) installed in a customer environment, there is much greater difficulty for the customer to turn to another vendor. While not a lock-in, there is greater resistance to change vendors.

Judging from my interactions with IT customers, I believe buying bundles from a single vendor will become the prevalent purchasing pattern. The main reason is because the purchase of the integrated solution is simpler for IT than buying multiple products from different vendors. It also requires less training. That simplicity translates to less administration required and less operational expense.

You can expect to see the trend of more integrated solutions continue. For the IT customer, it is important to understand what they may be giving up with a single solution commitment.

Simplifying the operational environment is a constant struggle, and anything that makes buying and using storage less complex is a big help. This Evaluator Group article on storage efficiency has more information on how to optimize storage.

(Randy Kerns is Senior Strategist at Evaluator Group, an IT analyst firm).

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  • RWynn1745
    I do agree that it is easier for customers to deal with a single storage vendor and that buying bundled solutions makes sense, but consider the following. Large vendors like Dell, Symantec, and EMC have added new products and technology through many acquisitions of smaller companies that could closely manage their product lines. Major vendors always claim synergy and full interoperability, but full integration of a new product or technology is not easy and takes time. There are always issues that lead to additional costs related to the support, maintenance, and upgrade of products that tend to be overlooked, leading to additional work for which an organization may not be prepared. The other issue is the lock-in that large vendors cultivate with bundled solutions, which makes it very difficult for IT managers to replace a component that does not work well for them with a best-of-breed product from another vendor. I have found that customers appreciate open, hardware-agnostic solutions that allow them to use existing storage equipment or to choose the best new devices for their environment and easily migrate their data. This approach avoids the painful removal of legacy storage and provides the flexibility to optimize the data center as needed, allowing organizations to realize ROI in a shorter amount of time.Ralph Wynn, Senior Product Marketing Manager
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