Since moving into my new role with EMC I have had the opportunity to work with many customers on projects big and small. One of the larger challenges I have been coming across more frequently are customers purchasing used storage arrays. While in most cases I am very much against the use of older technologies that someone else is trying to discard, there are instances where buying used can be a great deal. Unfortunately, in most cases, customers are being taken advantage of and end up spending more money on fixing a SAN not worth keeping than if they had just purchased a new array.
Buying a used SAN is not like purchasing a used car. Storage arrays, like most technologies, continue to become less expensive with every new generation. This is because processors, discs, and software continue to become commoditized. Meaning newer technology can be less expensive and provide you better performance and reliability than the previous generations; making acquiring newer technology easier every year.
Good Reasons for buying used:
- You are building out a small test/dev department where performance and reliability are not needed.
- You found a newer array still under maintenance that meets their performance and capacity requirements (go ahead, save some money!)
Bad Reasons for buying used:
- You believe you are too small to purchase a new storage solution because they are for “enterprise” customers
- You are trying to reduce spending in your IT department
Buyer’s Guide to a used SAN
- How many years left does the array have before it is EOSL’d by the manufacturer? Once the array goes EOSL, the manufacturer will no longer be making replacement parts which means if anything breaks finding replacement parts will become more difficult.
- Does the array come with all the “pieces” to make it work? On many SANs, including EMC, we store our OS on the first couple of drives. You would be surprised how many customers don’t know this and are sold an array without the OS. This is a huge financial mistake and can cause the array to be useless.
- Is the array still on maintenance? Like health insurance, if you want to cover your IT equipment for “what if’s” it typically needs to have been on continuous maintenance. If the maintenance has expired you will need to pay to have the array examined and re-certified. This, again, can be expensive.
- And finally, does the array come with the performance and capacity you are looking for? If not, you will need to purchase additional drives either from the manufacturer or used third party (used drives can and will fail more often). In this instance, you can usually purchase a new array for around the same price.