Today I am going to write about something which a number of my customers are currently experiencing. Vendor selection, or rather technology selection, is critical. Choosing the right virtualization and storage solution is not so simple as it used to be. With the number of new technologies available to us, it is difficult to determine what is best. So how do you decide, and which products should you use to virtualize your environment.
To be fair, this is a blog about EMC and VMware products, but at the same time, I want to be clear, I am writing this as a consultant, with a fairly agnostic mindset, I just happen to like those products best in general.
So a client I am working on currently now, purchased an excellent backup solution. They are running vSphere, and are very happy with it, we are getting ready to move them to vSphere 5 from 4.1, and we are working to implement some best practice changes. Unfortunately, prior to our involvement, they bought a storage array from a vendor. The sales rep came in and told them what they needed without actually doing any design work, or looking at their environment. The performance was acceptable, but the Implementation, again done by the vendor, did not even follow their own best practices. When the client engaged us, we immediately looked at the issues, ran some tools to get a baseline, and made a list of recommendations.
As we have begun to implement the recommendations, we have found there are more issues which continue to arise. The storage is not properly designed for the I/O profile. The limitations on the vSphere design is creating a number of problems which we are having to work around. The network is was not properly configured, by the vendor who sold it to them.
So what is the point here, and how does this relate to EMC/VMware? I cannot emphasize enough the value of having a good consultant, even if you get the right vendor. Beyond that, understand your environment and be up front about it. Understanding your I/O patterns, your network load, your processing requirements are almost always the difference between a successful deployment and what we like to refer to as a Resume Updating Event. I am not saying if you hire me, or bring in EMC/VMware, everything will be perfect, I am saying rather make sure you have someone working on your environment you trust. Don’t ever trust a sales person, question them, make them explain all your questions. Factor in things like additional load from backups, look at your 5 year outlook, what might you implement in the future.
The landscape is changing, think about what vendor is going to be able to keep up with your needs, and what you are trying to accomplish. At the end of the day, no one ever got fired for asking questions of their vendors. If they can’t answer them and won’t get you answers, be very cautious about that vendor.