Selling SAN Solutions

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Eryck Bredy, president of Bredy Network Management, Woburn, Mass., on sales issues:

SET THE SCENE: The bottom line is this: The way I try to position SANs nowadays is to ask the customer, 'Have you had this scenario happen to you? Have you had a scenario where you use only 10 percent of your storage because this department needs it? Or do you ever have a scenario where you run out of storage? Or where you need another array?' Everybody does.

PITCH GLOBAL STORAGE: So I tell customers instead of running out of disk space or needing more servers, a SAN lets them have global storage. Rather than looking at storage as a just-in-time thing, where they just buy disk space or get creative with USB drives, they should look at storage as a global commodity. . . . For instance, the customer might say, 'I can buy a USB drive.' I then ask, 'What about fault tolerance? Or the customer says, 'I'll buy another server.' But the problem is still there. And why buy another server when the one you have works beautifully? You need RAID so you don't sacrifice your resiliency.

MARRY WITH VIRTUALIZATION: SAN is still a long sales process for small businesses because of the dollars involved. I try to marry SANs with virtualization. Once a customer has a SAN, I tell them they can manage their disk space and get reliability. Then I can talk about virtualization with VMware. It's easy to add a new server with VMotion. If you add a new SQL server using VMotion, you can set it so it fails over automatically.

TALK FEATURES: I also tell customers that if they get an EMC or some other box, they should get two storage controllers for resiliency. I also like to talk about advanced features like snapshots. With snapshots, they get continuous reliability. It allows them to back up data any time to be protected. Then, rather than go back to the 11:30 version at 3:00, they can go back to the 2:30 version.

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OVERCOME COST: For a SAN, not everyone can go out and buy an EMC or a Hitachi or an IBM array. But they can build their own. If a company buys an x86 server they can throw software on it and turn it into an array. I work with Datacore's SANmelody. Just add a couple of Ethernet cards. The software starts at $1,178. It can be set up for IP SAN or Fibre Channel. There's no need to go out and buy an EMC box. Then the customer says, 'Oh, I thought it would cost tens of thousands of dollars.'

—Interview by Joseph F. Kovar