Storage vendors are often touting the remarkable features of their particular brand of SAN devices. However, without any proof behind the claims, these are just more unfulfilled promises. Sure, you may feel more comfortable after speaking with a sales engineer and hearing about some of the mechanisms behind the buzz words, but that feeling of uncertainty is a difficult one to suppress. If only you were able to actually have the SAN in your possession for a while, if only you were able to test it and really see what it can do. For many SAN manufacturers, this is not a possibility, at least, not without serious conditions. One common occurrence is that a vendor will tell you that you can test a unit at no cost, but only with a signed Conditional Purchase Order on file. This type of Proof of Concept protects the vendor more than it does the customer, who has signed away their right to return the SAN if it doesn’t meet expectations. However, there are many vendors who will let you test one of their units without any strings attached. Here are the reasons you should invest in a true, no-obligation Proof of Concept.
An account executive may tell you that the array you’ve been scoping has your make-or-break feature included. If so, then there should be no issue with letting you test one of their units to verify. Maybe it’s a feature they have, but you need to know more about the effectiveness of the feature, such as data deduplication. Deduplication ratios can vary between vendors based on the effectiveness and complexity of their data compaction algorithms. A PoC is a perfect opportunity to test a unit’s deduplication capabilities to see if it will yield your needed usable capacity. The PoC period is also the perfect time to see if this SAN’s more extraneous features actually provide any benefit to you and your organization or if they are just more cogs in the marketing fluff machine.
You might be thinking about going with a new SAN from a different vendor than the one you previously purchased from. There are a number of reasons why this might be the case, but the point is that you have decided that it might be time to move on. But moving on creates uncertainty and possibly anxiety because of the unknown that comes with an unfamiliar product. A PoC offers you an opportunity to become familiar with your potential new vendor, their interface, and their features. This will help alleviate your concerns about the new and unfamiliar manufacturer.
Doing a no-obligation PoC offers you an opportunity to get a head start on your storage project. One might argue that with all of the testing and verification that takes place during a PoC, not much time is saved. However, all of this testing will need to be done regardless, and with a conventional 30-day PoC you can get an extra month of training and testing under your belt before you even issue a purchase order.
All of these benefits are predicated on the PoC being obligation free. Since a PoC with obligations offers less flexibility to the customer, it is not necessarily the best route to go. In fact, a PoC that can’t be started until a conditional PO is signed might be a signal that the vendor does not stand behind their product or that they don’t believe it will live up to the standards you require from your next SAN device. Either way, a true no-obligation PoC is the only way to assure you peace of mind as you make this very important and expensive investment in your IT environment.