Many customers read the marketing and press releases provided by their friendly sales folks. But these documents are heavily weighted in favor of the company that produces them. A lot of IT decision makers read the trade magazines, but many of these magazines are heavily influenced by the advertising and revenue requirements of the magazines. Very few companies actually have the time and budgets required to run a bake off of competing products to see which one actually meets all of their requirements in their production environment.
Most decisions in storage are made with incomplete information on performance and long term costs. The vendor manufacturers know this, and they will low bid the cost to get in the door and open an account to their proprietary equipment, and then they will quickly begin to work on getting a customer to lock in on their proprietary technology. The cost to change storage technology can be quite expensive for an IT department. And this is the gravy train that the vendor is looking for.
So what options does a locked in customer have to rationalize their cost structure and affordably extend the lifespan of their equipment? Expert third party support is one option, and in certain niche markets it is the only option available because of bankruptcies and acquisitions in the highly competitive storage marketplace. For example, third party support in the NetApp marketplace is the only competition to the locked in customer available. Many of our customers keep NetApp support on some systems and use Zerowait for third party support on other systems. These customers feel that keeping some competition in the marketplace will keep competitive pressure on their manufacturer vendor. And they seem to be correct, as NetApp has dropped their support prices to many customers after hearing that Zerowait is in an account.
Avoiding getting locked in to a specific vendor’s technology is the best long term way to keep your storage costs low for the long term. However, if you are locked in to a technology, there usually is a specialty support organization for that equipment.