By Kyle Christopher 

We’ve recently made several discoveries as we research ways to help customers prepare for their next EMC storage purchase. Choosing the right EMC storage system for your environment is not an easy task. Furthermore, making the wrong decision could be catastrophic on several fronts. Most businesses cannot afford to buy storage twice. The burden rests squarely on the IT Director’s shoulders when he invests large amounts of money into a storage solution that does not solve the initial problems. Going back to ask for more money for yet another storage solution not only makes you look bad, it makes you look incompetent.

However, it’s not all storm clouds on the data storage horizon. If you are considering your next upgrade, finding the right people and doing the proper research ahead of time will set you up for a very successful storage implementation, leaving you confident in your purchasing decision and quite possibly making you a company hero. We want to make sure this happens for you.

Also, please be sure to obtain the free white paper on EMC purchasing available at the end of this article.

Are You Considering EMC?

If you are considering EMC for your next storage, you are in good company. A survey we recently conducted found that 60% of organizations are utilizing an EMC storage solution.

The following practical tips will arm you with the right questions when approaching your next EMC storage purchase.

1. Define Your Service Level Agreements

Increasingly, we see businesses applying SLA-like requirements to business applications. This will drive requirements for your storage. It is essential to consider what your applications require prior to making an EMC purchase.

2. Define Your Business Objectives and Prioritize Them

Certainly, applications, data growth and hardware are important considerations when defining your business objectives. Equally as important, however, are personnel and budgetary concerns. You must ask yourself questions such as “Do we have dedicated personnel to manage our storage?” If not, ease of use will be a priority for you. Another question might be, “How can we find the best storage available within the confines of our budget?” You certainly should not settle for less when determining your storage needs. However, at the same time, purchasing the most expensive option will not solve your specific issues. Like a skilled doctor, you must very carefully consider the problems you are trying to solve. Otherwise, you should hire someone who can do this work for you. Otherwise, it will undoubtedly cause problems for you down the road. 

3. Make Use of Storage Tiers

Limiting certain applications to top-tier storage will allow you much greater flexibility in your environment and help you avoid the over-purchase of hardware that may not need to be utilized across your entire environment. This allows your lower storage tiers more bandwidth for applications that do not require as much capacity or speed in the first place. Limit your low-tier applications to slower drives, and increase your ROI. Auto-tiering via FAST or FAST-VP in your EMC environment is great for just about any EMC system.

4. Plan for Unplanned Growth

With exponential data growth across all verticals, it is essential to plan for your current and future data needs. Only planning to “keep up” with your current storage needs is poor planning and will surely have you going back to ask for more money for yet another storage upgrade. It is essential that you plan for 3 – 5 years of growth with exponential increases in data. It doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg.

5. Determine Failover Performance Requirements

Determination of your failover performance requirements is simply overlooked in most business discussions, but it begs the question: “What is the acceptable performance for our storage system during a failover event?” There will usually be significant performance degradation during a failover event. Defining your performance requirements will ensure you are prepared when that event hits so you can at least keep up with performance-levels required. Perhaps you require only 65% performance, or maybe you require 100% performance requirements. It is crucial to consider your particular failover requirements.

6. Prepare A Detailed Requirements Document

You can usually trace your poor storage performance back to the fact that it was never properly defined in the first place. In essence, you got what you planned for. Great requirements docs collect and organize all the individual details defined above. Consider things like usable storage, redundancy, performance and storage tiers required for various applications.

7. Ensure Future Scalability

Remember that a storage system is not necessarily designed to handle a full load. Just because your system holds 120 disks does not mean that your system can handle 120 disks under 100% load. Your system is usually at capacity around 60 – 80% of stated disk capacity, depending upon how processor-intensive your enabled services are.

8. Downtime Costs Money

We talk to storage professionals on a daily basis. They can roughly be divided into two groups. We’ll call them “The Unwise” and “The Wise” storage professionals.

The Unwise – These are the storage professionals who think they have tricked the system by hanging on to those old tape drives that slow down their environment. In reality, they’re making themselves vulnerable to excessive downtimes, unscheduled maintenance, data loss or corruption, or surging costs as their data stores increase exponentially. In the end, you actually lose money, business and customers if you’re not prepared. By not investing just small amounts of money into upgrades, the unwise storage professional usually spends more than double – in terms of time and money - what he or she would have by simply doing a little more research and considering all the options.

The Wise – It’s a lot easier to maintain your storage environment than you may have previously thought. The wise storage professional understands there are a lot of great alternative solutions with regard to storage upgrades. Our survey found that roughly half, 49%, of storage professionals have invested in pre-owned hardware. Many times you can find current or N-1 generation hardware at significant discounts by purchasing from a third-party reseller. If you absolutely need the latest hardware, such as the new VNX, it’s a worthy investment. However, many professionals know that N-1 hardware, especially among EMC solutions, rivals even the latest release.

9. Find Custom Solutions to Fit Your Environment

It’s important to keep in mind that not all EMC storage solutions are a good fit for your business. You might be a mid-size business, but your technology adoption may require enterprise-class storage, or vice versa. It is imperative for you to consider your specific needs, not just the first economical solution you can find. Most storage systems are not “designed with the end-user in mind.” Most storage systems are designed to appeal to a mass market. Would a family of five buy a house based on the most economical bargain they could find, even if it was only two bedrooms? By the same token, you likely wouldn’t buy a “one-size-fits-all” storage solution without considering your specific performance requirements.

10. Don’t Make the Wrong Choice: Consult An Expert

If you’re on the verge of a storage purchase and you’re not sure if you’ve considered all the factors involved, STOP! There are simply some items businesses simply overlook. Because we’ve worked with so many IT professionals, we’re aware of the usual points of failure within storage design. The above points should expose typical areas of vulnerability when planning your next storage purchase. 


Now that you’ve considered all these points, it’s now time to go back and make sure you’ve carefully considered the best customized options for your environment, defined your requirements and considered whether you’re truly prepared for your next EMC purchase. Are you sure that you've considered all your storage needs prior to your next EMC purchase? Are you completely confident you've considered both present and future storage needs? Have you consulted a second opinion? We have created a white paper, which goes into much more detail about the items above as well as the specs in order to help you make a decision when planning your storage environment. You can download the white paper simply by CLICKING HERE. We’re also available for complimentary assessments if you’re just trying to consider your options and talk through performance requirements. View our CONTACT PAGE for more information on how to connect with us.