Buying new data storage hardware is an infrequent purchase for most small and medium businesses, but the functionality of what’s on offer can change significantly over the years. To help you make the right choice, we’ve compiled a list of the questions every buyer should know the answers to before making their next investment.
How much should I expect to pay?
This will vary dramatically depending on the needs of your business, so the best approach is to break this question down into seven contributing factors.
- Capacity and performance: How much data do you store today, and how could that grow over five years? How often do you access data, and will workers and customers have problems if access is slow?
- Availability: If you couldn’t access your data, how quickly would this become a problem – seconds, minutes, hours, or days?
- Services: Can you manage and support the device yourself?
- Security: How sensitive is the data you are storing?
- Acceptance: What are your ideal purchasing terms?
- Physical limitations: Will the device fit where you want it to go?
- Applications: What are the data performance needs of your software?
Answering these questions will give you a good framework for working out what you need to spend.
What should I expect for my money?
Storage hardware has changed a lot, with today’s state-of-the-art NVMe technology barely available five years ago. Just as important as the technology inside the box is your ability to use it. Look for a supplier that provides technical advisory services to ensure your hardware is set up properly, and who can teach you to maintain it for the long term.
What features should I expect to ensure my data is secure?
Cyber-attacks are a threat for businesses of all sizes. You want to ensure your storage hardware provides you with the following three defensive measures:
- End-to-end encryption: to ensure your data is always safe from prying eyes.
- Ransomware and malware protection: the ability to store data so that unauthorised parties cannot tamper with it, such as using IBM’s Safeguarded Copy technology.
- Backup: the ability to quickly recover to a ‘clean’ environment if something does happen to your data.
How long should I expect my device to last?
The typical warranty on storage equipment lasts three years, and most customers pay to have their devices maintained for another two to ensure they receive the security and performance updates needed to keep running optimally. After five years the cost of maintaining old devices usually rises above the cost of buying new ones. New devices also provide the benefit of all the latest technology improvements, which can further reduce costs.
What are the ongoing costs?
There is a lot more to storage hardware than the purchase price. Understanding total cost of operation (TCO) is critical, especially the annual maintenance and power costs. Finance has also become more flexible, with IBM offering a lease-based pay-as-you-go model, and the option to buy a high-capacity device but only pay for the storage you are using, and then increase your storage without having to buy new hardware.