Last year, I wrote a blog to share some of the market knowledge I had gained from talking with hundreds of customers about post-warranty support (third-party maintenance) for some of the most common storage platforms. Since then, a few areas of the market have changed, our capabilities have increased, and thousands more companies have at least considered third-party support after seeing a staggeringly high renewal quote from their vendor.

One more change: We’ve been winning more contracts than ever from third-party competitors who have been in the business for a long time. (More on that at the end.) For now, I’d like to share with you more of what I’m seeing in the marketplace, as well as what you should be thinking about with regards to specific storage systems.

  1. EMC VNX – I simply need to start here—again. From 2011 to 2013, EMC sold an incredibly high number of VNX arrays and has since moved on to VNX2, XtremIO, and Unity. (They also underwent one more major change…. Did you notice the email addresses changed over to Dell in September?) Due to the high adoption rate, Gen1 VNX (VNX5100, VNX5300, VNX5500, VNX5700, VNX7500) has become the No. 1 storage platform we support. If you are either trying to get more life out of your VNX or trying to buy time while you determine what your next production platform will be (maybe it’s not even EMC), then third-party support is a very easy, practical, and low-risk way to save money.
  1. EMC VNX2 – We now support the sequel! What’s more relevant to you, however, is that VNX2 is now old enough in many cases that the 3-year original warranty has expired or is about to expire. As you may suspect, your renewal quote from EMC or your VAR is likely to be unreasonably high, and it’s nice to know you have options elsewhere. Since VNX2 is 3+ years old now, there is now sufficient inventory to support these systems.
  1. EMC Isilon – A few years ago, Gartner predicted that unstructured data will account for 80 percent of data growth within the enterprise. Do you think they’re right? From everything I’m seeing, it seems to be a very accurate prediction so far. As a result, EMC has continued to focus on its Isilon platform, which offers a scale-out NAS architecture that can go into the petabyte range. What’s the price tag, though? Individual nodes can be six figures, and renewing maintenance on a full cluster is also likely to be a six-figure purchase. We can actually provide additional nodes as well as extended support, and the savings are massive.
  1. EMC Data Domain – EMC’s acquisition of Data Domain, much like Isilon, has proven to be very successful. According to a 2016 IDC study, Data Domain enjoys a 61-percent market share among “purpose-built backup appliances.” Unlike Isilon, though, it doesn’t scale easily, licensing and upgrades are expensive, and renewing maintenance can be painful. Just remember that companies like Relus can mitigate some of those costs, especially once the original warranty period has expired.
  1. EMC VMAX – We still support this, although we’ve noticed EMC is doing everything in its power to employ FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt). EMC often does a good job of convincing the higher-ups that no one outside of its own engineers can support this system, but we still have systems under contract, which have been under contract since 2014 and have renewed several times.
  1. Dell EqualLogic – What I’m about to write is absolutely not insider information. It is, however, what I consider to be common sense. Dell sold tons and tons of EqualLogics because of the platform’s ease of use, scale-out architecture, and reasonable price. Now, however, we have a situation in which Dell has acquired EMC, and again, this is pure speculation: They want their storage. EMC has long been the market leader in enterprise storage, and Dell EMC will likely be moving forward with Unity, XtremIO, Isilon, Data Domain, and VMAX, while trying to persuade EqualLogic shops to refresh. Now, maybe a refresh is ultimately a good idea, but if your EqualLogic storage still has useful life (as it should), why not repurpose it and have a third party support it for a fraction of the cost?
  1. HP 3PAR – We’re seeing an increase in companies looking for alternatives to HP for both hardware upgrades and support. Believe it or not, there are even ways to recertify pre-owned 3PAR drives and adding them to your existing HP support contract—if you work with the right partner.
  1. NetApp – I wrote last year, “It’s all about 7-Mode vs. CDOT,” and it’s still the case. This probably won’t surprise anyone, but NetApp has clearly moved on to CDOT (Clustered Data OnTap). It hasn’t released a 7-Mode OS update in 2 years, and since it has been releasing plenty of CDOT updates, it’s safe to say your 7-Mode Filer(s) can go no further unless you convert to CDOT. NetApp is also using this to push people to newer Filers, but many of those people have already moved production onto another storage platform. If this is you, you can very easily drive out unnecessary maintenance renewal costs by looking to a third party.
  1. Brocade and Cisco MDS – Customers often forget to let us know that they bought some Brocade or Cisco MDS switches or directors from their EMC, IBM, or HP VAR. These switches can be on the same maintenance schedule as the storage they’re attached to, so make sure to keep these in mind when you request a quote from any third-party vendor.

You may have forgotten by now that I mentioned that we’ve been winning contracts from well-established competitors in the third-party marketplace. Here’s why: We actually understand shared storage. Many of our competitors began supporting Wintel servers long ago and simply expanded their offerings to include storage when storage became so commonplace. When it comes to replacing parts like hard drives, fans, or power supplies, they usually have the network in place to do it. For many contracts, that’s all that’s required. But when an issue that goes well beyond a bad drive comes up, you will quickly learn what expertise you have lost by choosing the wrong third party. Many of the new customers that we signed on in 2016 learned this the hard way, then talked the scenario through with our service delivery and realized what Relus offers that others don’t.

Relus focuses on expertise. We focus on fixing problems, resolving issues, and ensuring no downtime—not just replacing parts. If you’ve read this post and are considering third-party maintenance within your environment, I’d love to put you on the phone with our service delivery and let you see the difference for yourself.

We at Relus wish you a happy new year, and we invite you to take a look at what your support has done to help kids in the Atlanta area by clicking below.

Toys for Tots CBS Relus Atlanta

About Jon Hillard

Jon works at Relus as a Product Manager for Data Storage, helping customers determine how Relus can best fulfill their storage and maintenance needs. Jon has worked with data storage since 2010 and understands where genuine pre-owned data center hardware or post-warranty maintenance can safely reduce costs for organizations while enabling them to take on more strategic initiatives. Jon and his wife, Chrissy, enjoy hiking, cooking, and raising their adorable rescue dogs, Buster and Boomer.