One vendor too many?

October 23, 2009 -- The end users I speak with approach the buying process in different ways. Some opt for a single vendor – the so-called "one throat to choke" strategy. Others buy storage from multiple vendors to keep everyone honest. Most feel the multi-vendor approach is the way to go, but it's a slippery slope. How many vendors does it take before the pros outweigh the cons?

In a new report, "How Efficient Is Your Enterprise Storage Environment?," Forrester Research senior analyst Andrew Reichman outlines some best practices for "multisourcing" along with ways to measure key performance indicators (KPIs) for storage efficiency.

Reichman believes multisourcing storage can give customers the upper hand in negotiations and reduce vendor lock-in, but there is a risk to having too many vendors in the mix.

He says having too many vendors on hand can dramatically increase cost of management and reduce overall efficiency. For instance, managing different storage platforms can require different skill sets. More platforms in the data center require higher management and training costs.

He also says that negotiating a better price is a balancing act. Reichman writes, "Vendors often give deeper discounts to those who buy more of their gear. So, while negotiation power can be improved with competition, actually buying from many vendors can limit volumes and therefore discounts over time. Bids should be competitive, and exit strategies considered, but it makes sense from a pricing perspective to pool purchases with a smaller number of vendors once the negotiations are done."

No two environments are the same, but a good rule of thumb is to have no more than three different types of storage on the floor to keep costs under control and minimize complexity.

Multisourcing is one piece of the puzzle. Forrester's storage analysts also offer best practices for measuring capacity utilization and allocation, tier ratios, and staffing.

The full report can be found on Forrester's website.


posted by: Kevin Komiega

Kevin Komiega, Senior Editor
by Kevin Komiega
Senior Editor

Kevin Komiega has been the Senior Editor of InfoStor since 2005. He was previously a senior news writer with SearchStorage.com and held a position as a public relations account executive with Porter Novelli, Boston. Kevin also spent four years running tape backup operations at the University of Rhode Island's Academic Computer Center. He can be contacted at kkomiega@quinstreet.com.

Previous Posts