Stanley Zaffos, vice president

By Baselinemag  |  Posted 2006-10-19 Print this article Print

In the never-ending quest for storage, three experts in the field tell you how to get more for less.

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  • Stanley Zaffos, vice president and research director, Gartner

    Stanley's major areas of responsibility include storage and storage management software. Zaffos has more than 20 years of vendor experience, plus 10 years of experience working in the aerospace industry as a design engineer and scientific programmer. He is keen on reducing costs at the point of purchase--more specifically, during negotiations with the storage vendor. That's where the most money is on the table. Here's what he told us:

    Tip 1: Assign a dedicated team.
    When you negotiate with a storage vendor, their job is to sell stuff. It's what they think about when they wake up in the morning, it's what they think about as they drift off to dreamland. So, create a dedicated storage team to handle the negotiations. If you view storage as a one-off, an annoying but necessary part of the job, you're going to be an amateur going up against a pro. But if you put together a dedicated team whose bonuses are determined by how well they negotiate the deals, you're no longer at a disadvantage.

    Tip 2: Manage a dual-vendor environment.
    If you have two vendors competing for your business at all times, and you are willing to change vendors, you will have more effective service and support. It's a matter of creating a credible threat. That doesn't mean you have to divvy up your storage business half and half, but you must remain economically important to both vendors. The important thing is to maintain the element of doubt.

    Tip 3: Negotiate ongoing costs up front.
    Everything is negotiable, and that includes the long-term maintenance and upgrade services the storage vendor provides. But negotiating those discounts must be done before you sign the initial contract for the hardware and software. You'll never be in the same position of power over the vendor again. And be sure you factor in the present value of money. A 10% discount that begins in two years is a losing proposition.

    Tip 4: Include soft costs in the contract.
    It's always going to be easier to get a vendor to throw so-called "soft costs" into a deal than getting them to give you cash back. So, be sure to leverage all of the training expenses possible. It may seem like a small number, but you may have changes in your staff or bring in new features and functions over time that will require additional training. You want to be sure you don't have to pay for that.

    Tip 5: Look into thin provisioning.
    Once the vendor negotiations are over and the hardware and software are in place, the next big thing in storage management will be thin provisioning. By allocating disk space at the time it is needed (rather than setting aside space in case it is needed), thin provisioning can dramatically simplify and reduce utilization rates. But it is not a feature currently being offered by mainstream vendors.

    NEXT PAGE: Tips from IDC's storage research group

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