Faster Delivery = Happy Users
Automated Process = Fewer Errors
Standards = Cost Reduction
Order Visibility = Confidence
Linking Systems = Efficiency
Many of our clients have reached out to us to discuss the dissolution of the IBM N-series Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) relationship with NetApp, a partnership that dates back to 2005. Mostly they’re asking us a lot of questions about how these changes affect existing N-series arrays support contracts, the ability to add additional disk capacity in the short term, and ongoing maintenance contract support in the future. We’ve been involved with this partnership from day one, and have shared the following good (and bad news).
The official end-of-availability for new N-series arrays was May 27th, 2014. That said, clients are still be able to upgrade miscellaneous equipment for the next 12 months, and support of current N-series configurations will continue into 2018.
The bad news is that IBM is not planning to support the N-series portfolio moving forward. This forces our clients to face the inevitable fact that their company’s data is tied to a platform reaching end-of-life and support.
The good news is that -if you’re an IBM N-series client that has a wealth of history, internal knowledge and expertise invested in the N-series product- you are able to leverage what you already have. All you have to do is replace the product with NetApp-from-the-tap arrays.
This news likely will result in many clients feeling like they have to consider a few storage solutions as a replacement for their IBM N-series product, and go back to the drawing board regarding their organization’s entire datacenter strategy.
While it seems simple to rip-and-replace one vendor’s product with another every three years, we know that replacing the knowledge investment made in onsite personnel and their comfort level with a product isn’t nearly as easy.
Even if an IBM N-series client elects to replace their N-series with another IBM product, that new product would still be a completely different type of storage (complete with its own new learning curve) than their existing N-series product.
If you’re an existing IBM N-series client that enjoys the product, and is looking to keep enjoying it in the future – purchase a new NetApp product as a replacement. N-series clients can easily use all of the product’s inherent NetApp-created SW features such as 4k block level deduplication, compression, thin provisioning, as well as the collection of application-specific backup and recovery products – they just have to utilize them on a new NetApp system.
If you replace existing N-series product with new NetApp-branded arrays, you won’t sacrifice the valuable functionality that your infrastructure’s business model has come to depend on for the day-to-day business operations. And in our experience, that seamless transition can save you immeasurably in terms of both CAPEX and OPEX expenditure. Ask us and we’ll show you how.
Here’s a chart that compares the typical rip and replace cycle with a new vendor vs. rip and replace with our recommended solution:
|Phase||NetApp Arrays||Rip and Replace||Effect|
|Consideration||If you’ve got an IBM N-series in-house. You know what the product is capable of, and what you’re getting.||Industry average between 3-6 months of consideration, research, demos, price negotiations, and of new product.||Evaluation of new solution is performed simultaneously with onsite IT staff’s daily tasks/maintenance.|
|Purchase||Acquisition of new product is made.||Acquisition of new product is made.||Average from 2-4 week wait to get all hardware products shipped and delivered onsite.|
|Set up & configure||With internal N-series experience, a new NetApp array will take a few days to weeks depending on the system. Then it’s just a matter of migrating data.||Depending on internal or 3rd party assistance to get a new system set up, a conservative 1-3 months minimum before it’s up and running with existing data migrated over.||In order to maintain current operations, maintenance and support of all old equipment is required by the IT staff to ensure business continuity.|
|Knowledge Transfer||With internal N-series knowledge and expertise, there should be little to no knowledge transfer required.||A fair amount of Internal training and knowledge transfer is required.||Most IT administrators report the usual timeframe between when a new solution is purchased and when they’re fully confident utilizing that solution is around 4-6 months.|
|Full cycle completion||If little to no knowledge transfer is required, a few days to a few weeks.||If we count from the moment in time that an organization decides to replace one vendor’s storage solution with another, to the point in time it’s up and running effectively and the onsite IT team is confident in using it, that’s a conservatively estimated 12 months.|
|Ongoing||NetApp’s Data ONTAP is the #1 operating system in the world, it offers clients the opportunity to leverage the same feature/functionality across their existing knowledge base year over year, even as they scale up or out into newer NetApp systems.||In most rip-and-replace scenarios, clients start considering refreshing a 36 month support contract at around the 2.5 year mark||Most clients taking the ‘rip and replace’ approach get about 24 months of production work out of their systems and the staff charged with maintaining them on a new 36-month terms, before they start the cycle all over again with a new vendor solution.|
If you’re currently using an IBM N-series array every day in your environment, and you want to continue, we want to show you the value the new NetApp FAS 2500 and 8000-series arrays brings to your infrastructure.
It’s important for potential and existing NetApp clients to understand the infinite uptime (even while upgrading controllers) and the seamless ability to scale-up and scale out ability that Clustered Data ONTAP provides to NetApp clients. This is an operating system that NetApp arrays of all sizes use, it’s the standard OS for their software development moving forward, and it’s an operating system N-series cannot support today, nor in the future.
We’ll also explain the additional benefits to your potential NetApp investment that we offer with our world-class Keystone support for NetApp. We’re one of the only providers to offer this value-added service in North America.
The first step in this journey is to get in touch with your dedicated Softchoice Account Manager. As a trusted solution provider to our clients, we offer guidance through the convoluted and murky landscape that is the technology acquisition process.
From there, depending on your past storage experience, coupled with your current state of affairs, there may be a number of approaches to take. It may range from speaking with a dedicated NetApp resource immediately, to speaking with one of our agnostic storage resources that, on top of a funded Storage TechCheck, will have a wealth of knowledge of all vendors, including their individual pros and cons.