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More Warnings for Storage Buyers

In two articles this week, we've tried to highlight the pitfalls the December holidays may bring and point out some key complaints shared by storage managers about the industry.

It appears there are items to add to both lists. One of these concerns the holiday sales reportedly conducted by storage vendors looking to unload year-end inventory. According to Harold Shapiro, former technology architect at Warner Bros., suppliers like EMC, IBM, HP, and Sun often approach favorite enterprise users with "fire sales" at year end.

"They might offer an array that normally sells for $2 million for half price," Shapiro says. But he cautions storage buyers to be leery of vendor discounts. For one thing, year-end discounts mean year-end reviews that often have to be conducted over the holidays. "I remember reviewing deals right up to New Year's Eve," Shapiro laments. That's no way to spend off-time.

Shapiro also reports that in at least one instance, discounted end-of-year stock wasn't a great buy just because it was cheap. "We didn't need it. It was not the most effective use of our funds." Sometimes, there would be interoperability problems, or new gear would stretch operations folk by requiring new training or staff resources. Shapiro has also heard of instances in which equipment sold was really earmarked for "end of life" anyway.

He counsels folk who do opt for an end-of-year sale not to drop their standards when faced with a deal. "When vendors come to you, be a good, hard negotiator," he suggests. Don't let your guard down because you perceive that the vendor has gone out on a limb.

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