As your stored data continues to grow on a daily basis, one of the considerations that every IT Manager faces is how to most cost-effectively store data. There are many considerations to take into account when managing stored data to include how readily the data needs to be accessed as there are varying costs involved. Depending on whether specific data needs to be accessed immediately, or whether its archival data, there can be a significant effect based on how and/or where the data is stored, in addition to the cost of the data storage equipment being utilized.

It is important It is important to ensure that you are realizing a maximum ROI on your data storage infrastructure as your organization’s data storage needs evolve and grow. One way to achieve a maximum ROI is to ensure that your data storage equipment is utilized for its entire useful lifespan. Just because the lease term is up on your equipment doesn’t mean it’s time to replace the equipment. There are several important criteria to consider when determining whether it’s time to replace or to continue to use your data storage equipment.

First, it is important to understand that most data storage solutions have a useful lifespan of several years. With proper care and support, most data storage solutions (both disk arrays and tape libraries) have a useful lifespan of 5-10+ years. That means that most equipment still has a usable life well beyond the lease term of the equipment considering most lease terms are between 3-5 years. Continuing to utilize equipment well beyond the end of lease term is one of the best ways to maximize ROI.

Second, in order to keep your data storage equipment operational for many years beyond the lease term, it requires service availability. Although most storage equipment manufacturers offer service options for the first three years, there are many options available to continue service and support of your equipment for many years beyond the OEM service life. 3rd party service and support options offer a means to keep your data storage equipment operational beyond the lease term and OEM service life, and are also available at a cost significantly lower than OEM support.

Here are a few useful questions to ask when considering keeping or replacing a data storage solution:

• Does the solution still serve a useful purpose within the organization’s IT infrastructure?

• Can the solution be repurposed if its original use is replaced by newer technology capabilities?

• Are there reliable and cost-effective 3rd party support options available?

• Will the support of the existing equipment be more cost effective than the acquisition of new equipment?

As long as support and replacement parts remain available for your data storage solution, and the solution can be utilized in a useful manner, why not maximize your investment and keep the solution operational? For example, older disk arrays that may not be suitable any longer for high traffic SAN environments can be repurposed for use in archiving or backup of your data, or for use in non-production, testing environments. Tape libraries still offer the most cost effective means for storing massive amounts of data offering a long and useful lifespan for archiving or backing up data that may not need to be accessed on a daily basis.

At some point, when the cost of supporƟng your data storage solution outweighs the usefulness of the solution, or when there is no longer a viable purpose for the equipment within your organizations IT infrastructure, there comes a time to retire the equipment. But until then, why not utilize 3rd party support options that will allow you to effectively utilize your data storage equipment for years beyond the lease term and the OEM service term to maximize your return on investment?