Questions to ask before a hardware upgrade

Over the last several weeks a friend of mine has been working his way through a recommendation from his hardware vendor as to whether he should upgrade his storage hardware and software. He is being cautious because he has done upgrades before and found that sometimes he gets only some of the benefits that his vendors’ Analysts, Engineers and Sales teams have promised. Sometimes upgrading has made his storage infrastructure less efficient by his internal metrics and he does not want to experience that again.

Discussing the options over the last few weeks we came up with a series of questions he wants his vendors to answer before he upgrades:

1) Does this vendor mandated software or hardware upgrade solve a significant problem that is unlikely to have a patch or repair kit in the near future so that we can maintain our current hardware solution?

2) Is the vendor unbiased in their upgrade recommendation, or is this mandated upgrade a tool for their own revenue enhancement ?

3) Does the vendor mandated solution actually address any systemic issues that we are experiencing?

4) What is the complete range of solutions that can solve our vendor’s mandated upgrade, besides the upgrade ? Is “do nothing at all” a viable solution that we could live with?

5) What problems will arise from implementing the vendor’s mandated solution? Can we identify all of the problems and costs before we select a solution?

6) Would the vendor’s solution solve our problem less expensively than another solution. What are our manpower and additional infrastructure costs if we implement the change?

7) Will implementing the vendors solution cause our users any downtime, or additional manpower after we implement the change?

Most hardware and software vendors concentrate on identifying and providing solutions which selling their products to their customers will solve. That is not the same thing as providing customers solutions to their own storage infrastructure problems.

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