A Deeper Look at the True Cost of a Storage System

By Ling Wang, Product Marketing Manager, Storage Platforms at NetApp


For midsized business customers, finding an affordable storage system that has just the right features – not too many, not too few, and something that they won’t outgrow very quickly – is the ultimate goal when considering their data storage investment.


When considering the purchase, price obviously jumps out as the primary factor to a lot of people. Yet price is not the only thing that determines how much the storage system is going to cost you; there are a lot of other factors that determine how much you are really going to spend.


Imagine you are running a factory with an assembly line and you have one highly efficient worker who works four times faster – that leads to four times more productivity than others. For the similar salary, you would definitely want to hire this worker, wouldn’t you? Even if you pay this super worker a little bit more than others, you are still better off than paying four mediocre workers each. That’s simple math. By having this super worker, you are saving a lot of money.


Now with a storage system, it’s a similar story except there are two dimensions to this. First, storage capacity. We all know that large disk space is not cheap, especially when your data grows fast. If you have two choices – one system can accommodate all your data with certain storage space, and the other can do the same with half the space – which one would you pick? The answer is pretty clear.


Now the second dimension – throughput. How many applications and servers one storage system can serve is another important factor to consider. If you have this super powerful storage system that serves two to four times more applications and VMs than other products for the similar price, you would definitely want to get this one. With a similar price tag for each, you are clearly better off buying one such system than buying multiple other slower systems to accomplish the same. It’s that simple. NetApp’s FAS2200 series is that one highly efficient worker that not only provides storage efficiency technologies such as thin provisioning, dedupe, compression and snapshot to help save 50% storage space (check out our 50% less storage guarantee program here), but is also able to serve two to four times more applications and virtual machines with its stunning performance compared to other products in this space1. One highly efficient NetApp system versus four less efficient systems together that cost 4x more to support the same environment and needs – it sounds like we have a clear winner.


Another natural tendency when we talk about storage cost is to focus solely on cost to purchase at the point of sale. However, the total cost of ownership (TCO) spanning the life time of the system is really what matters the most when it comes to storage investments. Cost of revenue due to downtime, cost of IT resources to manage and maintain the system, and cost of upgrading – in the form of time and resources spent on data migration and new system training – are all important factors that will significantly affect the overall cost.


As some of you may know, NetApp’s FAS2200 series won the latest “Best Overall Value” Award with Info-Tech Research Group, which cited lowest TCO for FAS2200 among all the products from EMC, Dell, HP and others in the evaluation (link here). Cost of down time can be huge, especially with mission-critical business applications. With NetApp’s highly available and non-disruptive operations that came with clustered Data ONTAP, our customers can free their businesses from IT constraints and cut cost associated with planned and unplanned down time. If you want to know exactly what your TCO is and how NetApp’s FAS systems help reduce your TCO, check out our online TCO calculator here.


With the comprehensive management and diagnostic tools such as System Setup and OnCommand software suite, FAS2200 simplifies the setup, management and trouble-shooting, minimizing the time and IT resources required to keep your storage systems up and running. Running the same OS and same software tools, the whole FAS family, from entry to midrange to high-end, is able to provide a seamless upgrade path that eliminates the need for training and learning about a completely new system. With the latest clustered Data ONTAP release, you can take advantage of the dynamic scalability of clustered storage by starting small and adding storage as your data grows without having to incur large investment upfront or having to abandon previous investment completely and upgrade to a new system when you outgrow your current systems. Better yet, once you start using clustered Data ONTAP, you won’t have to worry about data migration any more, which is often very costly.


With so many factors to consider, the true cost of a storage system is really much more than that single number on the price tag. For more amazing ways that FAS2200 systems help our mid-size business customers save cost and improve ROI, visit http://www.netapp.com/us/products/storage-systems/fas2200/ and http://www.netapp.com/us/solutions/midsize/.


1 Source: NetApp internal tests.