Friday, September 30, 2005

Affordable NetApp service and support - no matter where you are

Over the last few years we have built an international business providing parts, service and support to Network Appliance users. Typically, NetApp customers call us after their initial warranty has expired and NetApp provides them with a service and support quote which is quite expensive. A few months ago, NetApp quoted a midwestern state government over $100,000 for their F760 service and support. Our quote was considerably less and Zerowait got the business.Recently, we started receiving requests to provide three (3) year service contracts to our clients. And now we have created a three year ZPA service and support plan that provides our customers with long term storage support and services at a very reasonable price.

If you have a large NetApp infrastucture and are looking for ways to reduce your operational storage costs, please give us a call. Zerowait has an excellent reputation for providing an affordable alternative to NetApp for upgrades, service and support.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Storage Pool & Islands of Storage

No matter how you look at it, when you have a storage problem all of your storageseems to be in one place. One data center, One storage system, One back up, and if is not up and running you have got One big problem.

Is your storage easy to access?
Is the storage performance acceptable to your average user?
Can you add more and fatter pipes to improve performance?
Is your storage pool filled with files that never get accessed?
Is the pool filled with empty storage disks that never get used?
How much does it cost to keep unused storage running?
How much does it cost to run a storage pool that can't be accessed?
How much is your maintenance and support costing per TB of storage?

Zerowait can help you answer these questions, so you can provide cost effective storage solutions to your user base. Zerowait Specializes in providing an affordable alternative to NetApp for service, support and upgrades.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Sometimes you are out there and all alone.

Who are you going to call for your NetApp hardware support when you recognize that you might have a problem? Obviously you can call the manufacturer, their SE's are excellent. But they are going to provide you with answers and solutions to help them sell and support their proprietary solutions. Your network configuration might not fit their standard tool set, or you might be running a combination of legacy filers and newer equipment and you have some questions. If this is the situation you are in. Zerowait can help. Our engineers service, support & maintain hundreds of filers in a tremendous variety of applications and environments. Our customers range from the one man IT staff to the largest outsourcing companies. Zerowait is the recognized leader in third party NetApp support.

So, although you might feel like you are all alone, with a Zerowait support contract and service agreement you can be certain that the best technical staff is there to help you with your most complex NetApp problems.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

"Success, the real success, does not depend upon the position you hold but upon how you carry yourself in that position." Theodore Roosevelt

When is the last time you reviewed your cost of storage? Recently I was meeting with a customer and they wanted to know what their cost per GB was and also their cost of operating their storage infrastructure. At Zerowait, we use a cost estimate of $1.00 a day for each head and $1.00 a day per storage shelf.
When folks ask us to estimate their storage costs we have to ask some questions to ascertain whether they want us to figure fully weighted costs or only acquisition costs and estimated direct operational costs. Some customers of ours can provide with their costs for manpower and their cost allocation for square foot of space. But most of our customers can provide us with acquisition costs .
Even so an analysis we ran recently showed that on a particular filer 7.8% of the filer was being used for MP3 files and almost 10% of the files had not been accessed in over a year. My question is what is it costing to have mainline storage used up by files that are not used or are not relevant to your business operations. I wonder how much it is costing filer users to keep this data in the primary storage assets.


Monday, September 26, 2005

If our competitors saw us walking across the Hudson River, they would say it was because we can't swim.

Building a partnership with our customers depends on our ability to deliver what we promise on time. Visiting customers and discussing their problems with them is the best way we know to be able to provide them with the service and support they need.

Last week, in Colorado, I met with several clients who had unique requirements for their short term projects. Over the next week we are going to be working with them to
provide them short term solutions for their project's storage requirements. Keep us in mind if you are looking for an inexpensive solution for a project or data migration.

Zerowait provides affordable alternatives to NetApp for upgrades, service and support.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

"Of course it's the same old story. Truth usually is the same old story." -- Margaret Thatcher

Zerowait's clients come to us through a variety of sources, but they all expect integrity and a grasp of the complex issues relating to storage. Occasionally, our advice is contradictory to the manufacturer's sales and engineering representatives comments they have recently heard. Typcially, this is because the manufacturer is looking at tactical sales goals, while we are looking to provide our customers with long term strategic storage advice to maximize their return on investment.

Looking at long term storage solutions presents an even greater challenge. The final paragraph of an article in this week's Economist provide's a perspective on what lies ahead for us:

Looking further ahead, the combination of databases, tagging and search will make it possible to navigate large numbers of documents in all kinds of radically new ways. David Gelernter, a computer scientist at Yale University, imagines searching using time and space axes: imagine picking New Haven, Connecticut, on a map and then zooming back to 1701 to see information about its founding. Ben Shneiderman of the University of Maryland has devised a new way to display search results in which data appear as concentrations of information in a “tree-map”: the colour, position and size of thousands of results can then be taken in at a glance. As folders fade away and search software evolves, it seems that we may, at last, be able to find what we're looking for when we need it. With the death of the folder, perhaps we can finally get some work done

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Storage support - not just a day at the beach!

Providing top notch storage support services certainly takes a lot of time and commitment. This week I have to travel to visit our customers in Colorado. Compared to Delaware, Colorado is a mighty big state! Visiting customers is the only way that we can learn what customers need and what their problems are. And I have found that our customers appreciate that I come out to visit them. A typical month, will see me traveling 10 days around the country to visit our customers.
Recently, we have seen a large increase in our NetApp support & service business. Many companies are purchasing our three year support contracts, which seems to mean that many customers expect to be running their 700 series and 800 series equipment for a long time to come. Zerowait will continue to provide affordable service and support for this equipment for as long as there is a demand for it. I hope you will keep us in mind if you are looking to reduce the costs associated with your NetApp maintenance.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Dave Hitz of NetApp has a new blog!

I wrote the following note on Friday to Dave welcoming him to the Blogosphere.

TO : daveblog@netapp.com

Hi Dave:
Welcome to the blog world, your input and thoughts are going to be widely read I am certain.

A few things that I find our readers are most interested in are:

1) The issue of transferable software licenses

2)The cost of storage

3)The operational costs for running more storage than you require for current storage demand

4) Storage performance testing


I hope that you will participate in my blog occasionally, and I also suggest that you read Jon Toigo's blog at www.drunkendata.com , my blog is at Zerowait.blogspot.com

Best regards,
Mike

Dave Hitz is one of the sharpest guys I ever met, I hope that he will provide insights into the storage world and how NetApp users can get the most out of their storage investments.

Zerowait mentioned in article in Processor

Friday, September 16, 2005

"You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do."
-- Henry Ford
Zerowait is building our reputation one satisfied customer at a time. Mike Linett

A lot of Zerowait's customers have been to our offices in Newark,DE and seen that I sometimes drive my 1935 Ford truck to work. This truck is 70 years old and still runs like a top. I can get almost every part on this truck through an on line store or from a catalog for delivery in a day or so. Occasionally, we use it to make deliveries to our local customers. It usually is an eye opener when we roll up to the receiving dock in it. Henry's company built a great truck in the middle of the depression, and it is reliable 70 years later. It is easy to use and easy to work on. Nothing fancy, it just runs and does it's job. It is sort of like a NetApp F700 series filer - simple and reliable.

In the late 1990's NetApp built about 15,000 of the F700 series filers. However, NetApp has been trying to get their 700 series users to upgrade to newer units for years. NetApp's sales folks are compensated handsomely on new unit sales. But in many storage environments the F700 series remains the perfect solution for the requirements they serve. NetApp's business model is in selling new equipment, Zerowait's business is based on service and support of all NetApp equipment.

Zerowait maintains a lot of these F700 series filers for customers throughout the USA. We provide next business day (NBD) parts replacement and maintain a tremendous amount of spare parts in our warehouse. If you are concerned about the long term viability of your NetApp 700 series filer, give us a call. Our engineers can help you get the most of your filer, and our Zerowait Parts Assurance (ZPA) contracts are really quite affordable. We look forward to hearing from you and we hope that you will join the growing family of Zerowait's satisfied customers.


Zerowait mentioned in article in Processor

Thursday, September 15, 2005

"Your theory is crazy, but it's not crazy enough to be true."
-- Niels Bohr

Landing a plane on a pick up truck might seem like a crazy idea. It certainly takes an enormous amount of skill and confidence for both the pilot and the truck driver. And yet, I have seen this done dozens of times without any serious incidents. Of course, it is only done at air shows, under controlled circumstances with little or no wind. It takes a lot of planning and control to do it right in front of a crowd.

When you install your new storage solution or upgrade your storage software do you try it first in a controlled environment? Do you test it under load in real circumstances, or do you just trust your vendors' tests and their word that everything will work fine right off the bat. Often Enterprise Storage solutions are sold based only on marketing promises and vendor test results. How does the equipment work in your environment? Unlike the air show act of landing a plane on a Pick up truck, today's storage managers are being asked to install equipment that has to work every time but has never been tested under load in their environment. The short term consequences can often be disastrous to a company that depends on data availability. An on line company that can't process credit cards or process orders because their data is unavailable is closed until things can be made to work again.

The aerobatic act of landing an airplane on a truck takes practice and a knowledge of the weather conditions. It can't be done in a high crosswind. Does your transition plan take your network conditions into account? If you are installing the storage equipment, can you rely on your network folks to provision the switches correctly. What is your back out plan?

Zerowait can help you answer your questions and help you plan for a successful NetApp installation. We have installed dozens of NetApp filers in a tremendous variety of conditions. We can help you bring your storage project in for a soft landing within a tight budget.

Zerowait mentioned in article in Processor

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

"Men often oppose a thing merely because they have had no agency in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike." -- Alexander Hamilton

The view from the cockpit of a twin engine airplane is a little more complicated then from a single engine airplane. But you feel a little safer with an extra engine. Since twins are faster than singles you need to plan a little better when setting up for a landing in instrument conditions

Similar to twin engine pilots most companies feel a lot safer about their storage when they have a reliable backup and restoration plan. But unlike twin pilots, who practice single engine operations, many companies don't practice their restoration process. This leads to a major problem for many budget constrained IT departments, but one in which Zerowait can help. Zerowait has a disaster prevention strategy that we use and that we have worked with other companies to implement. The kernel of the idea came from a conversation that we had with some NASA engineers on how they would use a combination of load balancing and data mirroring to provide both back up and recovery in one solution.

Based on this conversation our engineers developed the idea and we now use it for our own disaster prevention solution. Zerowait has now begun to help some of our customers implement our Disaster Prevention in their data centers. Tape is great for archiving, but can you get your company up and running again quickly by restoring from tape? When is the last time you tried it? If you are nervous about the costs and consequences of your data recovery solution give us a call. Our solution might work for you too.

Zerowait mentioned in article in Processor

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Boulder Dam or Hoover Dam? Its the same dam thing.

Does it make a difference if you buy the NetApp version of the FAS270 filer or the IBM 3700 version? Same box, same software, same service and support. The only difference is who gets compensated and who gives you the best deal. It pays to call around for your new NAS hardware. However, will NetApp or IBM provide you continuing service and support three years from now, or will they try to force you to upgrade your storage infrastructure?

If you are looking at your storage solution simply to build a dam to control you growth of storage today, the strategic consequences of your future operational costs for service and support will be of limited importance. However, if you are looking at your storage as a pool to provide storage for your customers long term needs, perhaps you may to want to thing strategically.

At what point does a leading company in the storage business decide that remarketing is a more profitable long term business then providing innovative customer driven solutions? At what point does a leading disruptive technology provider in the NAS niche decide that it is better to manage relationships then to provide its own innovative solution to its customers? Are these vendors thinking tactically about their own current market share, or strategically about their customers long term needs?

What is your storage vendors long term strategy? Zerowait's is easy, we will provide affordable service and support for NetApp filers.

Zerowait mentioned in article in Processor

Monday, September 12, 2005

Stratregic Leadership in the storage industry.

Today our engineers are doing an installation at a Data Center near New York City. The area between Washington DC and Boston represents about 25% of our NetApp service and support business. As the leader in NetApp service and support it is natural that our local customers ask us to come on site to help them with Data Migrations and upgrades. But in reality since we are between Philadelphia airport and BWI it is just about as easy for us t go to Oakland, Boulder or Seattle as it is for us to get to Boston. And so our engineers travel a lot, and so do I.
Frequent conversations with our customers have revealed that our customers work with us and follow our advice for a variety of reasons including a track record of successful installations and migrations, trust in our professionalism, follow through and reputation, and the thrill of completing a project on schedule. Our customers often contrast us to their hardware vendors' Account Managers and sales folks who are so obviously compensated by making their short term sales numbers instead of creating long term trusting realtionships.

My job as President of Zerowait is to build relationships in which our employees can provide creative support solutions for our customers' NetApp storage solutions. Our customers recognize that we have built a team that is dedicated to building the leading company in this niche. We look forward to working with you on your next strategic storage upgrade or support solution.





Friday, September 09, 2005

"When you work seven days a week, fourteen hours a day, you get lucky."
-- Armand Hammer

Today our engineers are doing an installation of a transferable licensed F840 with a couple of TB of disks at a client of ours in Maryland. The client called on Tuesday because his filer was running at capacity and wanted to know what affordable options we could put together before the weekend for him. Working within a tight budget, we put together a solution for him that will meet his storage requirements today while leaving him plenty of room to expand in the future. We had to rearrange our schedules a bit to accomplish the task, but putting the customer's needs first remains a priority of our company.

How long will it take to get a replacement drive?The Netapp nearly requires drives purchased from Netapp. Once we were a bit shocked when the "next business day" for Netapp to replace a drive which failed on June 31st was July 6th. The explanation? It was past noon on the 31st. The 1st and 2nd were a weekend. The 3rd was the day before the 4th and everyone had been given an extra day off. The 4th was of course a holiday, and the 5th was the earliest ship date, for delivery on the 6th. They offered (and we accepted) same day delivery for a $500 surcharge. They called this "sudden" service.


Many customers, and NetApp Resellers, depend on Zerowait to have the parts they need when they need them. Zerowait stocks Ready To Ship Filers, drives and storage shelves. Unlike NetApp, which may take two weeks to ship a simple order, we usually can get customer parts orders out right away. Using our on line store is a great way to speed up the order process, but you can call us also at 888.811.0808 . However you contact us, we hope you will join the growing family of satisfied Zerowait customers.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

"Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward."
-- Kurt Vonnegut

Yesterday, I was visiting a large government customer in Washington DC., their NetApp salesperson told them there was no such thing as a transferable licensed
filer. Since they had purchased Filers with transferable licenses in the past from Zerowait they knew that Filers are available with transferable licenses. When they pointed this out to their NetApp salesperson, I was told he promptly switched gears. But not before frustrating the customer. Many of the customer's engineers have been to our offices and worked in our configuration labs over the past few years to test systems and learn some tricks from our engineers. It is a great realtionship and has gone on for many years.

This customer values that Zerowait provides affordable support for their NetApp equipment for years after NetApp ends support, but also appreciates that they can
get engineering support and work on a one to one basis with our engineers on questions about configurations. We have been working with some of these engineers for almost ten years now. And then there is a comfort and trust factor that makes everything a lot easier to discuss, especially over some beers on a nice evening like last night!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

"Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship." -- George Orwell

Our typical customer is looking for a choice in their sources of parts and service for NetApp equipment. As a proprietary vendor, NetApp tries as hard as it can to lock up its customers so that they will be the sole source provider of equipment and support for NetApp equipment. However, there are choices available for NetApp parts and service. Competition exists and NetApp's dictatorship over upgrades, parts and support has some cracks in it.

Zerowait provides parts, service and support to some of the largest integration companies for their NetApp equipment. Our large and growing inventory of parts allows us to compete with NetApp in providing our customers with support levels that meet or exceed NetApp's service and support.

Our transferable licensed NetApp filers, come with letters of transferability from NetApp and provide our customers substantial savings, we currently have FAS940's in stock with NFS & CIFS Licenses. If you are looking at upgrading to a FAS940 why not compare our prices to the ones you get from NetApp? You will be glad you did!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

"Nothing travels faster than the speed of light, with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own set of laws."
-- Douglas Adams

When is the last time you heard a manager complain that everything is working perfectly? The old line about the squeaky wheel getting the oil is remains as true today as it was 100 years ago. Since NetApp equipment is so reliable the only squawks we here about are regarding NetApp's high cost of service and continuing support. Zerowait specializes in providing affordable service, support and upgrades for NetApp storage equipment.

So if you are happy with your NetApp equipment but nervous about their maintenance prices, please give us a call. We hope you will join the Zerowait family of satisfied customers.

Friday, September 02, 2005

As I noted in my Nobel lecture, an early insight in my work on the economics of information concerned the problem of appropriability - the difficulty that those who pay for information have in getting returns. Joseph E. Stiglitz

In the IT storage world we have a large problem in defining how to measure storage productivity in a meaningful way. Zerowait is working on a set of tools that will provide this information in an easy to understand format. Working with our customers, we are helping them to define their storage costs, operational costs and on going maintenance costs. Many companies value information costs differently, many companies value their labor and overhead costs differently. However, every customer that I have spoken with wants to maximize their returns in the short run and long term.


How do your determine the value of the returns your storage infrastructure provides your company?

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Strategy and Tactics- in a changing world
"Born often under another sky, placed in the middle of an always moving scene, himself driven by the irresistible torrent which draws all about him, the American has no time to tie himself to anything, he grows accustomed only to change, and ends by regarding it as the natural state of man. He feels the need of it, more he loves it; for the instability; instead of meaning disaster to him, seems to give birth only to miracles all about him." -- Alexis de Tocqueville

In order to maximize your Storage investments you need to have a stable platform from which to view your infrastructure. Because without a stable point, your can't apply any long term value to the assets or assign a cost model to the usage of the asset. So to paraphrase De tocqueville, in the storage industry it seems that we have a cadre of managers who regard change as a natural state and who thrive on it.

However, the TCO models that the manufacturer's in the industry provide are flawed and the make some pretty strange assumptions about cost and performance. Jon Toigo's Blog points out a serious difference between the performance claims of NetApp and one a customer recently published on the toasters mailing list.

Is it possible to create a reliable cost and performance model when actual customer results are 50% below what the manufacturer claims? It is this disconnect which explains the tremendous growth of our business over the last couple of years. As customers see that their older equipment is stable, reliable and under utilized they seek not to purchase the superseding model of equipment pushed by the manufacturer, but instead they seek to maximize their storage equipment's unused ability to handle more storage and to reduce their cost per TB of storage they manage.

Zerowait provides our growing list of customers with a cost effective way to manage their storage. And we can provide you with the tools to evaluate your storage infrastructure to see if upgrading your current storage is a better solution then purchasing a superseding unit.
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