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Consolidating data storage: Three key storage considerations

Consolidating data storage in client shops can greatly improve application performance. This quick tip offers three key considerations to help you craft a storage consolidation sales pitch.

When it comes to selling storage consolidation services to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), value-added resellers (VARs) like yourself must collect certain information before crafting a sales approach. In this tip I'll offer some questions to consider when preparing that killer sales pitch.

What are your storage clients storing?
If they are simply storing normal user data across multiple file servers, a NAS device may just be the ticket to help them reduce the number of file servers and the overhead associated with backing up data on those distributed file servers.

On the other hand, if they have enterprise applications that require maximum performance and availability, a SAN would be better suited. Ask if their storage needs might be changing in the near future so you can figure out which storage technology -- network-attached storage (NAS) or storage area networks (SANs) -- may be more appropriate.

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Are clients using any storage-hungry applications?
Many SMBs are running their own mail servers (Microsoft Exchange, Cyrus IMAP, UWash IMAP) and potentially a database server (Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, IBM DB2). These types of applications can use up storage faster than it can be provisioned.

Consider partnering with a software vendor that already has expertise in one or both types of applications. Working together you can come up with an offering that benefits everyone.

Are clients suffering any performance problems?
If your clients use storage-hungry applications they may eventually run into performance problems (if they haven't already).

Exchange is a very demanding application that requires both RAID 10 and RAID 5. Add a Blackberry Enterprise Server to an Exchange infrastructure and the Exchange server load may increase by at least four times. This sort of problem can easily be handled by today's iSCSI SAN and NAS products.

Hopefully, I've given you some questions to think about before going off to try and pitch storage consolidation services to SMBs. If you come up with additional questions about storage consolidation please let me know. I relish the opportunity to answer them in future tips.

About the author: David L. Stevens is a storage manager for Carnegie Mellon University where he manages multiple iSCSI SANs. When he is not managing SANs he is enjoying time with his wife and two cats.

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