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Skewers and kabobs

June 18, 2010

For those who don’t know, i’m the IT guy at a small firm in Austin, TX.  For those who don’t know where Austin is, it thinks it is at the center of the Universe, and it’s probably pretty close.  Closer than the Valley, which is only the center of it’s own universe.

As of late, I’ve been running lots of vendor evaluation in storage.  Now I love storage: my previous employer may have been a storage firm.  The reason I love storage?  If something goes really wrong, we’re all up the creek without a paddle.  The skewers will come out, and IT (me) will be the kabobs.  It’s expensive, it’s tedious to manage, and it’s never fun to consider what happens when one, if not the single most expensive piece of your pie (thanks to virtualization turning off lots of servers) goes bad wrong.  I don’t want to consider that meeting with management, nor the SAN/NAS hating software developer who’ll just laugh and blame me as the root cause of all of his problems.  So I have to put lots of love around vendor selection.  The problem is:  storage companies hate vendor selection.  The emperor is left with no clothes, and they all have problems that are unique to their situation:  EMC has theirs.  NetApp has theirs.  Everyone does.  With EMC I’m losing disks to the OS.  With NetApp I’m losing disks for either extra parity or extra hot spares.  No one says “you buy X storage array with Y number of Z drives and you’ll get X space”.  Not even Dell’s EqualLogic, which they brand as idiot proof (or non-storage administrator friendly) tells you the capacity.  Marketing is a PITA by design.

Tonight, when I go to bed, I won’t lose any sleep over my Dell servers, or my Cisco switches.  No, I’ll lose sleep over what storage vendor is providing the least amount of bullshit, the most value, and the least risk.  Because if one provides too much crap, too little value, or too much risk, I’m skewered.

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