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We’re back to the backup appliance question

Really? Build your own backup appliance still makes sense?

The three top (and most important) motivating factors behind data protection decision-making today are also my three reasons why just about every IT shop should buy an appliance rather than cobble together pieces and parts. I conclude money, staffing, and viability set the stage for “who buys what” around data protection. I also say that these three should convince buyers to implement a backup appliance rather than architect their own solution.

Lots of IT folks, including the C-Level person, who are eventually responsible for the decision, more likely cite features, ease of use, and legacy investments as their top three. Some may raise the emotional factors of brand position, company politics, and the “wow” factor.

When looking at backup appliances, customers need to “step up a level” and consider money, staffing and viability into their decision. I’m biased because of the STORServer approach to our data protection appliances, of course. We take for granted that we already have the features, etc. and the branding and wow factor in place.

The data protection software companies want folks to concentrate on just their element of the purchase. They expect that customers will ignore the automation of appliances when they can get the discussion around technology and emotional issues.

Consequently, technology (including features, ease of use, promised futures, and a customer’s current or legacy data protection solution) is more often the contributing factor in the data protection decision. Most competitive solutions are made of pieces and parts but appliances are made from very good sets of technology, from very well know brands.

Emotional factors also get in the way. They don’t help anything, including morale. A company may feel better because the emotions in the office have been properly attended to. The important factors, however, may not get addressed.

That’s why I believe money (specifically, cost effective data protection), staffing (low impact, high productivity), and viability (performs needed functions for today and tomorrow) stand as the three most important motivations for a customer’s buying decisions.

The STORServer appliance suite of offerings gives customers the widest range of automation that meets those three factors.

The only way a company can spend more effectively than an appliance purchase is to have an appliance implementation already in place. Folks who spend time, effort, and funds building and maintaining their own data protection solution do not appreciate, nor do they account for, their time or their effort. They do not assign dollar costs to those.

An appliance, due to manufacturing savings, implementation standards, and support effectiveness, cannot be matched by an in-house staff unless that staff has created an appliance mentality. They must have staff that are already implementing standards and shared expertise to take on responsibilities.

Finally, product choices from a build your own solution have a short-term life. Each component of a data protection solution includes upgrades and refreshes. The complexity of compatibility for the various versions of software, hardware and networking components defy prediction and calculation over time. Appliance implementations are built with viability in mind and in reality.

And yet, due to the constraints of money, the pressures on staffing, and the wonderment of the future many customers will fall back into the build your own data protection mentality. They do so because they put both emotion and technology higher on their list of priorities.


By John Pearring, Vice President for STORServer. As STORServer’s president from 1995 to 2008, he built the original OEM alliances and the e-business infrastructure for the company. https://www.storserver.com

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