Vendor Chronicles Part I or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Saved $1M

money-stacksThe relationship between any IT department and its vendors can get tricky at times. As is the case with any relationship, things are smoothest when your interests are aligned. However that's not always the case, as illustrated by this little story that I'm about to tell.

We have a customer in the etailing space that was having a lot of issues with a storage array. They have massive design documents that are constantly accessed over the network. But performance of these applications were very problematic, and they seem to be struggling to keep up with the rate of storage growth. At this point, they turned to their storage vendor for support and guidance. Surprise, surprise, the storage vendor said they were simply exceeding the capacity of the arrays they owned and it's time for a "forklift upgrade" - as in, buy another multi-million dollar storage array.

Clearly the interests are not aligned here. The customer wants their applications to perform better so they can design new products faster and bring in more revenue. The storage vendor wants to sell another unit so their own revenue increase, and isn't really concerned about the performance of this particular application. In situations like this, you really need objective analysis from a non-biased third-party.

ExtraHop came on the scene and quickly deployed our Application Delivery Assurance system. After a couple of days of data gathering, we could see definitively that there were serious misconfiguration on the storage system. Instead of performing hourly incremental backups as they thought they were doing, the system was doing full backups every hour, and sending 20, 30 GBs of data across the network. This pretty much overwhelmed all related systems and directly led to poor application performance. After changing the configurations and performing tuning as suggested by the ExtraHop system, things were back to normal. It turns out they were still well within the capacity of the existing storage systems, and a second unit was not needed.

Moral of the story? Vendor's interests don't always align with yours, an objective solution that monitors performance and true capacity needs can help keep that relationship honest and productive.

Any vendor management lessons you've learned? Do share in comments below.

  • Helen

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