The Three Characteristics of an Operationally Efficient Enterprise Midrange Array

As the economy continues to sputter, all size organizations remain prudent in their storage buying decisions which is leading them to examine enterprise midrange arrays from multiple storage providers. But to make the right choice requires that organizations look beyond obvious points of comparison such as the enterprise midrange array’s price and performance to the features that make it operationally efficient.

Choosing between enterprise midrange arrays is one of the more difficult purchasing decisions that organizations have to make. Just coming up with a short list of products from the many midrange arrays that are available takes some time and effort unless they use some type of Midrange Array Buyer’s Guide. (Download a free copy of such a guide at this link.)

Those organizations that make this investment in time and research will often find that enterprise midrange arrays from challengers such as Nexsan provide solutions that are superior to arrays offered by the incumbent. However this does not mean that the decision making process is over as the real battle occurs when it comes time to make a purchase.

As organizations get the final bids, the initial technical and even financial advantages that a solution such as the Nexsan DATABeast offers can be minimized by an incumbent who seeks to maintain its hold on the customer account. So a common tactic of the incumbent is to drop the price of its storage array so it equals or is even below that of the DATABeast.

It is when this situation arises that an organization needs to go the extra mile and look at how operationally efficient each midrange enterprise array is. This step is critical because if an organization is serious about driving costs out of its infrastructure, only by determining how operationally efficient each enterprise midrange array model is will the organization realize the maximum set of cost saving benefits.

This is easier said than done. Terms and phrases like “reliable”, “easy to manage”, and “easy to maintain” are tossed around all the time. However converting those clichés into tangible savings that are reflected in the bottom line is not so easy.

So while there is no magic formula for accomplishing this, guidelines do exist that organizations can follow so they can identify what features matter and begin to quantify the savings they might realize. Specifically, there are three characteristics that an operationally efficient enterprise midrange array will possess that will contribute to keeping its long term management and maintenance costs to a minimum.
 

  • Energy Efficient. No storage vendor is ever going to say that its product wastes energy but there are distinct differences in how efficiently enterprise midrange arrays use energy.

A good example is Nexsan’s storage arrays. They already distinguish themselves from many other midrange arrays as they are among the 1/3 of midrange arrays that offer MAID support. However it further separates itself from its peers with its AutoMAID technology. AutoMAID has not one power saving setting but three which it enables it to spin down hard disk drives (HDDs) so Nexsan arrays conserve energy while mitigating the potential impact to applications.

  • Space Efficient. Enterprise midrange enterprise arrays can scale up to the hundreds of terabytes if not into the petabytes so the possibility exists that a single midrange enterprise array can have hundreds of HDDs within it. But whether the array scales to 20 or 200 HDDs, organizations are looking to minimize the footprint that these HDDs consume in their infrastructure without compromising the HDD’s cooling, longevity or serviceability features.

Nexsan designs all of its arrays so that the maximum number of HDDs can be installed on a single shelf without compromising their stability, the ability of the system to cool them or the ability for technicians to service and replace HDDs within each array.

  • Cost Efficient. When making a buying decision, it is easy to just look at the upfront purchase price. However there are other costs that are all part of the total cost of owning and managing the midrange enterprise array.

Energy consumption and time spent managing the servicing of the components of the array (hardware and software upgrades as well as replacing failed or failing HDDs) are costs that surface over time and can add significantly to the cost and risk associated with day-to-day management of the array.

Nexsan with its MAID technology helps to minimize the day-to-day energy costs. Further, its use of enterprise quality SATA drives and the availability of Active-Active controllers for its midrange enterprise arrays contribute to minimizing the ongoing costs associated with managing its arrays.

The global economic situation is forcing organizations to look for vendors that provide more cost-effective storage solutions. What they are finding is solutions that are both more economical and feature rich. But when they go to pull the trigger to buy these new storage solutions, incumbents drop their prices in order to compete and maintain their presence in the account.

When this occurs, organizations need to switch their focus from the capital expenditure (since the upfront cost may now be approximately the same) to look at the ongoing operational cost associated with managing these arrays over the long haul. As they do, they will find that storage solutions from challengers such as Nexsan offer more than just competitive prices and superior technical features but also possess the features that make them more operationally efficient over time.

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