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What are the key steps in designing and purchasing a shared storage subsystem?

What are the key steps in designing and purchasing a shared storage subsystem? We're a small organisation and we hold our data in DAS and some old NAS boxes and we need to buy an up-to-date storage infrastructure to cope with several terabytes of unstructured and database information. I've never been through the process of procuring a storage system as such.

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  • Map out your existing infrastructure, detailing servers, OSs, applications, amount of storage, physical location etc.
  • Itemise your aims for the project. These could include: improved performance; centralisation; supportability; reliability; reduced cost, and; disaster recovery. For example, improved data access performance may not be an issue, but providing improved reliability may be.
  • Identify your budget and if necessary generate a board proposal for sign-off on the project.
  • Do some research on potential suppliers.
  • Contact sales teams of five prospects and ask them to submit a proposal based on your criteria. Use vendor sales resources well – they'll do a lot of leg work for you.
  • Never accept the first or second quotes.
  • Try and find out when the potential suppliers year-ends occur. You'll find they are much sharper with the price at quarter end/year end.
  • Consider setting performance criteria on your purchase with a sale or return clause in the contract.
  • Get suppliers to put you in touch with similar-sized organisations using the same kit, especially if you use bespoke software.
See another user expert's response to the same question here.

This was first published in December 2009