Friday, April 29, 2005

Happy Friday to everyone! While I was off repairing my health, I received an email from respected information technology consultant and author, Jon William Toigo. Jon writes:

Hey Cap:

Quick question for you. If NetApp changes its gear every 18 to 24 months and takes its existing products off support at about the same time as new gear is introduced, what is my service agreement/warranty worth if I buy a product a month before the product goes off support? Sounds to me like a Ponzi scheme: those who get in early make all the money, while those who join late get nada. Any observations on this? Is NetApp taking a page from Amway’s sales book?

Humbly,

JWT

Well Jon, I can tell you that Mike Linett frequently talks about the same issues. That’s why Zerowait has made it their mission to provide support for all NetApp equipment, even after it falls off NetApp’s support list. Through my relationship with Zerowait, I am finding that there are a large number of NetApp users out there who are beginning to see this too. Zerowait gets more calls every week from frustrated NetApp users who need support for the equipment no longer supported by NetApp. They are very happy to find someone as knowledgeable as Zerowait, willing to provide this missing support.

Anyone else who would like to add to this or any other discussion, please feel free to use the comments link to the right and send me an email. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

During this morning's Customer Service meeting, one of our engineers suggested that we put up a special on our Blog to coincide with my speaking engagement during Interop next Tuesday. Darn good idea we thought! So, we are offering a pair of clustered F840 heads with NFS and Cluster for $39,000.00 with transferable licensing from NetApp. If you are interested in this special offer please call us at 888.811.0808. We have a limited supply of these units and they typically go pretty fast, but if you order a clustered pair we will test and configure the filers for you and ship to meet your requirements. Zerowait has them, and we will ship right away!

If you happen to be in Vegas for the Interop show next week and would like to schedule a few minutes together to talk about Zerowait's affordable service, support and upgrade options for NetApp equipment - give us a call or drop us a note. Hopefully, I will be able to introduce you to some of the other members of the Zerowait family of satisfied customers.

Mike
First let me say thanks to Mike for posting to the blog the last 2 days. He did a great job!

If you are a current ZPA (Zerowait Parts Assurance) customer, you have, or will, receive an email from Zerowait with this advisory message.

Outdated disk firmware can lead to premature disk failures and other
issues, such as drives reporting as "broken" or "failed" when in reality they are not. Instead, they are being affected by one or more known bugs. Most of the known bugs have been fixed in the newer versions of firmware. Therefore, to minimize potential drive issues and improve drive reliability, Zerowait recommends maintaining your system on the latest available drive firmware.

The message will also have a list of your current discs, the up to date firmware revision number, and instructions for what to do.

The reason for this advisory message is that Zerowait has been getting numerous reports of bad drives. After down time and effort to replace the drive, it is determined that the drive itself is not bad, it just has outdated firmware. Consider this proceedure like a flu shot, no one likes to get them but the shot is better than the flu; no one likes to take the time to update the firmware of their drives, but a little time spent updating is better than down time replacing drives that aren’t really bad.

If you would like more help with this, call Zerowait.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Captain Rick is grounded with the Flu today and he asked me to write the Blog today.

Some people have asked where the company name Zerowait came from. I always believed in providing a quality service right away, and so I named the company after the concept of No Waiting. Zerowait's online store reflects our customer service philosophy and makes quoting and ordering simple and fast. Our customers and distributors love our system because of its simplicity, and the speed with which we are able to process orders. If an ordering and quoting system can be made simple why would NetApp make a system complex and require training to use it?

According to Arrow's Press release on the NetApp program -
"Once participants complete the computer-based training program they are required to create and configure a sample quote. Those participants who create a configuration with three or fewer errors will receive a cash prize."

Shouldn't quoting a NetApp system be simple? In a marketplace of intense competition and commoditization how can rewarding people to make less then 3 errors on an order be a good thing? At Zerowait, we try to get every order and quote correct the first time, and reward our customers with great prices, service, support for their NetApp equipment.
When it comes to NetApp parts " Zerowait has them, and can ship today!"

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Today I saw this news article about how Dell was going to target the NetApp products.

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Dell Inc., working with partner EMC Corp. , said on Tuesday it was chasing a new chunk of the mid-range storage market, in a further challenge to joint rival Network Appliance

But it was only a few years ago that Dell & NetApp were best friends. These storage companies seem to trade partners as quickly as Paris Hilton .

Remember this quote from a few blogs ago?


Round Rock, Texas, November 4, 1998- Dell Press Release
"Network Appliance is the industry leader and pioneer of the key technology required to build true network attached storage solutions," said Mike Lambert, senior vice president of Dell's Enterprise Systems Group. "This alliance will broaden the reach of our storage line and help move Dell into a leadership position in bringing relevant storage technology to our customers worldwide."

Zerowait provides High Availability and High Reliability service and support to our customers year in and year out. Yesterday, we shipped out parts to a customer with an 8 year old NetApp system. He knew Zerowait would have the parts to keep him running, you can trust us to maintain the parts you need to keep your critical data available for years to come.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Many people question the legalities of second hand equipment. It seems that manufacturers often use scare tactics to convince people to buy directly from them. These scare tactics often work because the IT managers don’t have the time to research these claims and they certainly can’t take any chances. Where as this may be a great marketing technique for the equipment manufacturers, it is not always true and certainly not always the best advice. Here is an article from Processor that does a pretty good job of explaining this.

There are definitely legal and safe ways to purchase used/remanufactured equipment. There are also legal ways to own and license this equipment. If you buy from a reputable source, like Zerowait, you can be sure that they know how to keep you legal.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Break-Fix shop vs. Engineering shop.

In a discussion with the Zerowait engineers, they explained to me that there are two types of IT shops, Break-Fix and Engineering. What kind of shop do you have?

A Break-Fix shop is one that, very simply put, fixes things that break. This is usually the case in a small company or a company with very large storage needs and smaller budget. These Break-Fix shops can be very good at getting the problem solved and are usually kept very busy with small issues. They are also very good at knowing who to call (They call Zerowait) if there is a larger or more complex problem.

On the other hand, an Engineering shop is one that is constantly planning ahead and looking for future problems and issues before they happen. This shop requires a lot more time and staff to keep up with the changing equipment and knowledge base. It also requires a larger budget and more in-depth training. A very understanding top office is also necessary; to some, it is hard to justify the cost of good engineers when things rarely break, even if they are the reason.

What does this mean to you? Both shops are very useful, but there are always times when it pays to have highly experienced help. That’s when you need to call Zerowait!
If you are planning any changes to your network, adding equipment, swapping out old equipment, updating firmware, or OS, call the Zerowait engineers ahead of time. They will point out possible issues and ways to prevent problems. The may even show that you don’t need to make the change at all, sometimes all you need to do is change some settings to get the extra performance you need. Don’t risk the down time, call Zerowait!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

In today’s Search Storage, Arun Taneja, president and founder at Taneja Group, Hopkinton, MA, says, “The big problem with NAS is that [the devices] are islands unto themselves”. He goes on to say, "What happens if I want to move information from NAS box one to NAS box 52?"

On the other hand, NetApp says that NAS equipment solves these issues through consolidation of storage. Here is a quote from the
NetApp Technical library. It comes under the heading “Key Reasons for Companies to Consolidate Storage” and says, “In the past, enterprises paid very little attention to data growth, focusing instead on database applications and servers to run them. This led to the creation of islands of storage to serve each individual database application, often resulting in underutilization and/or over provisioning of storages resources for each application. In today's enterprise, management demands not only better access to information but an increased ROI from deployed resources.”

So which is it? Tell me what you think. Are they islands of storage, or could it be like Australia or Antarctica, a continent that looks like an Island? Is an island really such a bad thing; doesn't
Aruba sound pretty nice right now? Either way, Zerowait has the roadmap for getting your data where it needs to be.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

I spend a lot of time hunting around for news and info to pass along to you. Lately it seems that the only news I can find about the NetApp world is the partnership with IBM. I have to admit; every time I scan through an article I feel the need to check it against my archives. I’m beginning to think they are just recycling an old article and changing a few names to make it new. Here is an example:

First there was Dell’s market reach….

Round Rock, Texas, November 4, 1998- Dell Press Release
"Network Appliance is the industry leader and pioneer of the key technology required to build true network attached storage solutions," said Mike Lambert, senior vice president of Dell's Enterprise Systems Group. "This alliance will broaden the reach of our storage line and help move Dell into a leadership position in bringing relevant storage technology to our customers worldwide."

Now there is IBM’s market reach….

Armonk, NY and Sunnyvale, CA – April 6, 2005 NetApp Press release
“This relationship is really about pairing innovative NetApp storage solutions with IBM’s global market reach, service organization and technology portfolio,” said Dan Warmenhoven, Network Appliance Chief Executive Officer. “We expect this relationship to be mutually beneficial long-term as we roll out our joint solutions over the coming year.”

Am I experiencing Déjà vu?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

One of the Zerowait engineers was telling me about a customer issue he was dealing with. He thought you all might learn something from it.

The customer had an equipment failure, so their engineers pulled one of their spares and put it in the system. When everything was powered up, the system still indicated the same failure. Their next step was to call Zerowait for expert advice. Good move!

After some troubleshooting and evaluation, it was determined that the spare that was put into the system was also bad. Two bad parts lead the customer to think that the failure was more serious than it was and also meant more down time.

How long have your spares been sitting collecting dust on the shelf? Do they still work properly? Did someone use the spare then put the bad part back in its place? What good is a bad spare? What can be done to safeguard against this type of scenario?
Zerowait can help prevent your company from going through this. Zerowait’s expert engineers will test, run, and re-certify your spares for you. Along with that Zerowait can store your spares for you, that way your parts are centrally located and proper, fully functioning part can be shipped to the location of your choice at the first sign of trouble.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Thanks for the post Mike! Maybe IBM can affect the way NetApp treats legacy equipment, but I won’t hold my breath. I can’t wait to hear more about your ASCDI experience. I’m sure there are plenty of other interesting things to talk about.

I hope that anyone who made it to Orlando also found time to catch up with Mike. In a phone call last week, he mentioned that he was meeting many interesting people. It sounds like he had a busy time.
The issue of Transferable system licenses came up at the ASCDI conference because of the announcement that IBM is going to OEM equipment from NetApp. IBM seems to allow license transferability as their Licenses travel with the box. But NetApp takes a much more 'Stalinist' approach to license transferability. It will be interesting to find out what happens with this issue.
As most of you already know, Zerowait maintains a stock of Transferable licensed NetApp equipment, so our customers can have all of the advantages of a licensed unit and a reasonable price point.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Happy Friday to you! I am back from Denver where the snow is mostly melted and the weather was a fabulous 72 degrees. The best part is you can be sure that I am safe to act as pilot in command of a Boeing 767 or a Boeing 757 for another 6 months, four hours of nothing but simulated emergencies and the proper recoveries have proven that.

Mike Linett sent me a link to a really good “Buyer Beware” article that he thought I should share with you. I touched on this topic earlier this month when I brought up the cost of re-licensing used equipment and the alternative solutions to expensive, direct from the manufacturer, maintenance contracts.


Rigorous testing and inspection by Zerowait’s highly trained, well experienced engineers means that when you buy used equipment, at great prices, from Zerowait, you are not gambling with corporate funds, but making a sound IT investment.
Today I am at the ASCDI conference in Orlando visiting with many of our customers. It is clearly one of the best organzations that I belong to. Interestingly, Joe Marion the organization's president, has written an opinon article for Processor magazine that is quite relevant to our business. It is definately worth reading if you have a few minutes available.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Today I head off to Denver to visit the fresh, melting, snow and a simulator, in which I will complete the test that keeps my flying career alive for another 6 months. You see, professional pilots get tested every six months to make sure they still have the skills and the knowledge to keep the 200 people sitting behind them safe. Why six months, why not a year or even two? Well, because the safety of all those people is important enough to make the tests every six months.

How about your data? How important is that? I’d say that it is probably important enough to have your system checked out by an expert every six months or more. Get a support contract with Zerowait. If you do you can have a quarterly review of your network, as well as have your equipment immediately report any issues directly to Zerowait’s expertly trained engineering staff.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Last month I wrote about an article on SearchStorage.com, in this article David Hitz was asked: “EMC is building a powerful software business through acquisitions. Will NetApp go down the same path of moving into adjacent markets to continue to grow the company?”

David’s response included: “We're not interested at all in going EMC's route.” I guess a lot has changed since early March 2005! In this article, just one month later, also on SearchStorage.com, we see that NetApp is now going EMC’s route by purchasing software-maker Alacritus.

Would that be a flip or a flop? Remember the link to the right for your comments, I’d love to hear from you!

Monday, April 11, 2005

Hi everyone, hope you had a great weekend! I am just getting in from a very long travel day. It was great weather, but the legs were long.

The ASCDI Spring Conference is almost started! Mike will be flying down early this week. If you plan to be in the area and have not yet made plans to meet with Mike, you are running out of time! Call Zerowait at 888.811.0808, and plan a meeting with him before he is over booked!

Mike is looking forward to meeting a bunch of our customers during the conference.

Friday, April 08, 2005

How much have you snooped around the blog site? Have you noticed off to the right there is a store link? Well you should go there and get registered. In the store you will find much of what Zerowait has to offer, including prices and how to order.

Now since you are a loyal reader of the Zerowait High Availability Blog, I will offer you this tip. After you decide what you want, don’t just order it, call Zerowait first, not only can they make sure it is really what you need, but they may also be able to offer you a discount or a new lower price. Besides it is always nice to have human to human interaction every once in a while.

Have a great weekend! I am off to St Kitts again, with stops in Myrtle Beach and Atlanta. However, before you pack your bags to come along, keep in mind, I will barely have time to get off the plane in any of these locations.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Sometimes an article can tell you something completely unrelated to the main topic. For example, this July 2001 article from SupplyChainBrain.com is about tracking and planning of inventory; however, there is a sentence in there that NetApp users may be very interested in. Almost hidden at the bottom of the first page, it says, “As a result, NetApp needs to recycle defective parts, many of which can be repaired, as quickly as possible…Yet customers are receiving new boards only between 20 and 30 percent of the time. The trick is to maximize the use of a given part before it reaches its inevitable moment of obsolescence.”

I hope the local pet store doesn’t adopt this philosophy with their gold fish, or I may be making far to many trips there to keep live fish in the kids new tank. “Better hurry up and get that one out the door it’s now healthy but getting pretty old.”

Did you know that your replacement parts from NetApp are more than likely used? Could it be that they are not just used, but rebuilt, or even an unchanged piece of another bad system?

When you get a used part from Zerowait, you can be sure that it has been thoroughly checked. Zerowait tests, inspects, and runs all used equipment once when it comes in, then once again before it leaves to go to the customer. All equipment is run, or burned in, for a reasonable amount of time, to insure that it will function to the high standards that you expect.

I have also heard rumors that Neospex will be offering new compatible drives with a three-year replacement warranty. Once in production, they will be available through their exclusive distributor, none other than Zerowait.
Now for the moral of the story. Get your compatible & used equipment from the used/remanufactured equipment specialists, Zerowait! With years of experience, Zerowait can supply you with a system and/or hardware support to keep you up and running. If new and compatible is more to your liking, Neospex, through Zerowait, may soon be able to help you with that too.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

You probably saw that Mike Linett submitted a post to the Zerowait High Availability Blog. He will do that from time to time.

Having read his post, I almost passed right over a very interesting statement. Mike said: “Today, I read an article that said that HDS and NetApp were breaking their OEM agreement. This does not surprise me at all, NetApp does not play well with others.” I didn’t want anyone to miss his point, so I asked him to expand on his initial comment.

Mike then filled me in on some NetApp history. You see, some years back, NetApp had a partnership with Dell; NetApp produced 700 series units with the Dell name on it for Dell to sell. As Dell's direct sales force started to take sales away from the NetApp sales force the OEM deal fell apart. This seems to have had other unintended consequences since the F85 and the F87 were manufactured by Dell, for NetApp, But the support went away when the relationship broke down. This is why Mike recommends that people stay away from Low end NetApp Products. Their history is to drop support on them quickly.

Now we see that the Gfiler relationship with Hitachi Data Systems Inc. has eroded. From a support perspective what does that mean for the oil and gas customers that bought these units?

Today, NetApp has announced a partnership with IBM. How long will this relationship last, and who will be NetApps next partner at the dance?
What does this mean to you? As the relationships with NetApp go away, the support for that equipment dissolves and NetApp goes on to partner with someone else, leaving the current customers standing lonely by the punch bowl.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Here is an article I found on Information Age web site. It paints a pretty grim picture of the used equipment market due to the high cost of re-licensing; with NetApp and Cisco being the main focus.

Not to worry, there are ways around the high costs. One way is to purchase used equipment that has a transferable license. Zerowait has some of those systems available now, and others coming real soon. One of these systems, coupled with a Zerowait backed ZPA policy for hardware support, can save you a lot of money over new equipment.

Now that is only one solution, and that doesn’t get you the Ebay type bargain that the article talks about. If that is what you are looking for then you have more than software licenses to worry about. Yes there are bargains on Ebay, but how much do you want to trust a 760 that has been sitting in someone’s garage since “that computer place down the road” went out of business. How do you know it works and what assurances do you have? What if you start it up and it dies 2 weeks later? Worse yet, what if you have trouble integrating it into your system and it knocks the whole network off line; who will come to your rescue? Certainly not the Ebay seller who wants to know if you need a printer to go with your “Rare, like new F760!

OK, I know it isn’t always that bad, sometimes you can get a good deal on Ebay, but rather than take a chance, why not buy your used equipment from Zerowait? Zerowait has their highly trained engineers test all equipment that comes in. Once sold, it gets tested again before it gets sent out to you. Zerowait can provide technical assistance as well as hardware support for all used equipment.

The bottom line is, yes, it is more expensive than you think to get used equipment re-licensed through NetApp, but there are ways around those high costs. Call Zerowait and discuss the possibilities.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Sometimes two technologies converge and bring a whole new wrinkle to our business. Today, I read an article that said that HDS and NetApp were breaking their OEM agreement. This does not surprise me at all, NetApp does not play well with others. The next article I read did surprise me. This article says that Hitachi is coming out with 1 TB disk drives in 2007. Since most filers are sold with about 1 TB of storage, it seems like Hitachi might have a disruptive technology on its drawing board, how will this development effect the low end of NetApp’s product line? Strategic planning in the enterprise storage world will change radically when storage disk capacity quadruples in 2 years.

Who are your friends? Anyone can tell you what you want to hear, but your friends will also tell you what you don’t want to hear.

Today, I am going to be your friend. I happen to know that there are still a large number of you still running systems with 18GB and 36GB drives. Most know that NetApp doesn’t make those anymore. A smart person may think that there won’t be a big demand for older smaller drives, so there will be plenty available for a long time. So they will hold on to those systems and be able to replace those drives, cheap, for a long time. An even smarter person will realize there are a lot of smart people out there holding on to those systems and the demand for a finite quantity of drives may drive the price up or even deplete the supply.

What am I trying to say? If you have one of these systems, and you don’t have the need to upgrade, you might want to start picking up some spare drives. Zerowait has them, but even Zerowait is beginning to have a hard time finding more out there. You may even want to pick up ZPA hardware support from Zerowait. Then you wont have to find the drives, Zerowait would find them for you!

Friday, April 01, 2005

Today I am writing from Nassau. It's almost time to head back home, so I will be brief yet again.

I have mentioned more than once that Zerowait is a great place to get hardware support and used equipment, but did you know you can get world class technical support from Zerowait as well? If you are about to make a major system change or just want to learn a new technique, it is always a good idea to have an expertly trained engineer standing by, just incase things don’t quite go as planned.

Through Zerowait, you can get support by the hour as you need it, or you can pre-purchase blocks of time (at a discount) that you can use as you need them. Zerowait Engineers are a great standby asset for those times when you or your IT guys get in a little over your head. However, do them a favor and if you are planning a change to your system, give the Zerowait engineers plenty of heads up first, not only will they be ready for your call, but they will also be able to give you a couple of good tips so that you don’t need to call them in the middle of the night with an unexpected emergency.

Have a great weekend!