A news story about the school board in Marshall Missouri  approving data storage plans in addition to getting good news on health  insurance rates just came into my in box.


I do not live in or anywhere near  Marshall Missouri as I live about 420 miles north in the Stillwater Minnesota area.


What  caught my eye about the story is the dollar amount ($52,503) and capacity amount (14.4TByte) for the new  Marshall school district data storage solution to replace their old, almost full 4.8TByte  system.


That prompted me to wonder, if the school district are getting a really good deal (if so congratulations), paying too much, or if about right.


Industry Trends and Perspectives


Not knowing what type of storage system they are getting, it  is difficult to know what type of value the Marshall School district is getting  with their new solution. For example, what type of performance and availability  in addition to capacity? What type of system and features such as snapshots, replication, data  footprint reduction aka DFR capabilities (archive, compression, dedupe, thin provisioning), backup, cloud access, redundancy  for availability, application agents or integration, virtualization support, tiering. Or if the 14.4TByte is total (raw) or usable storage  capacity or if it includes two storage systems for replication. Or what type of  drives (SSD, fast SAS HDD or high-capacity SAS or SATA HDDs), block (iSCSI, SAS  or FC) or NAS (CIFS and NFS) or unified, management software and reporting  tools among capabilities not to mention service and warranty.


Sure there are less expensive solutions that might work,  however since I do not know what their needs and wants are, saying they paid  too much would not be responsible. Likewise, not knowing their needs vs. wants,  requirements, growth and application concerns, given that there are solutions  that cost a lot more with extensive capabilities, saying that they got the deal  of the century would also not be fair. Maybe somewhere down the road we will  hear some vendor and VAR make a press release announcement about their win in  taking out a competitor from the Marshall school district, or perhaps that they  upgraded a system they previously sold so we can all learn more.

With school districts across the country trying to stretch  their budgets to go further while supporting growth, it would be interesting to  hear more about what type of value the Marshall school district is getting from  their new storage solution. Likewise, it would also be interesting to hear what  alternatives they looked at that were more expensive, as well as cheaper  however with less functionality. I'm guessing some of the cloud crowd cheerleaders  will also want to know why the school district is going the route they are vs.  going to the cloud.


IMHO value is not the same thing as less or lower cost or cheaper, instead its the benefit derived vs. what you pay. This means that something might cost more than something cheaper, however if I get more benefit from what might be more expensive, then it has more value.


Industry Trends and Perspectives


If you are a school district of similar size, what criteria  or requirements would you want as opposed to need, and then what would you do  or have you done?


What if you are a commercial or SMB environment, again not  knowing the feature functionality benefit being obtained, what requirements  would you have including want to have (e.g. nice to have) vs. must or have to  have (e.g. what you are willing to pay more for), what would you do or have  done?

How about if you were a cloud or managed service provider (MSP) or a VAR  representing one of the many services, what would your pitch and  approach be beyond simply competing on a cost per TByte basis?

Or if you are a vendor or VAR facing a similar opportunity,  again not knowing the requirements, what would you recommend a school district or  SMB environment to do, why and how to cost justify it?


What this all means to me is the importance of looking beyond lowest cost, or cost per capacity (e.g. cost per GByte or TByte) also factoring in value, feature functionality benefit.


Ok, nuff said for now, I need to get my homework assignments  done.


Cheers gs