Wednesday, July 31, 2013

OEM Storage Alternatives



Over the last three weeks we have been in Toronto, Boston, and Anaheim for the Siggraph show.  We met with a lot of customers who expressed their concerns about the cost of their NetApp storage and the options that are available today and on the horizon. It was nice to spend a weekend at home after so much traveling

Storage just grows and whether you are in the Government, Energy, Media, Financial, Healthcare, Manufacturing, or the Hosting business sector it is becoming a bigger problem to manage. In the USA, the regulatory environment is increasing the need for storage for many financial and healthcare customers that we deal with. The need for more storage and the cost and training of storage engineers knowledgeable of the proprietary systems sold by NetApp and EMC is adding to the budget and administrative burdens of many IT staffs. Specialist training is expensive.

We have a lot of Financial and Healthcare companies who use our NetApp support services to extend the life cycle of their EOS (End of Support) NetApp equipment. Our list of customers in both of these highly regulated sectors is growing, and they recognize that the need for an affordable tier two storage solution is growing even in these very conservative organizations.

Along with the financial and Healthcare industries, many of our customers in the Energy, Media, and Hosting sectors have adopted our SimplStor storage solutions because a generic tool set and knowledge base are easier to maintain and the costs of training are a lot lower. When your storage is growing at 100% or more a year a proprietary storage solution can get prohibitively expensive to maintain and customers’ recognize we can help them by adding economical SimplStor storage as a part of their data storage strategy.

Manufacturing customers are always looking for ways to cut their operational costs, and we have many manufacturing operations that are using our Zerowait support for their NetApp equipment around the world. As State and Federal regulations increase the requirements for immediate access to archival information, the manufacturing sector has been growing for Zerowait as customers look for a way to meet the new regulations in the most economical way possible.  

Storage is a horizontal market, and every organization needs to find a way to control the growth of storage costs. Zerowait has a set of products and services that are  recognized by customers around the world in a variety of market segments, and slowly but surely even the US Federal Government is recognizing that there are affordable alternatives to the storage providers they use. Finding personnel trained in the proprietary storage vendors’ tool sets is getting harder as the amount of storage grows. Zerowait can help organizations maintain their NetApp equipment, and with our SimplStor product line we have built a reliable, scalable, and affordable solution that can be maintained by folks with Red Hat and Linux experience. While many Storage vendors are providing a storage solution that works at “the end of the day”, Zerowait is looking at providing a storage solution that has room to grow as tomorrow dawns.

Monday, July 08, 2013

The end of proprietary storage solutions is coming

When you buy a socket set or additional sockets, whether you have a ¼, ½  or ¾ drive ratchet you can use your Snap On, Craftsman, or Kobalt sockets and ratchets  interchangeably. Some of my friends really like Snap On tools, but no matter which brand you buy it will still work with the other brands' components. The manufacturers have feature sets that differentiate the tools, but they all work together; it makes it easier for everyone to stick to a standard and to differentiate themselves based on their quality, features, or price. The market segments itself without a proprietary ratchet drive, and a 25 year old ratchet works with a brand new socket to let you tighten the manifold on your Ford car or Caterpillar tractor.

So how is that like storage? Well, open source storage is by its very nature and DNA going to be well documented, allow interchangeability and be supported for the strategic long term, and this has the proprietary storage vendors shaking in their boots. When storage innovators like Doug Cutting, Hadoop’s creator, says things like this it substantiates that the move to mainstream open source storage is coming down the road.

By Nick Heath | June 14, 2013
 “The days of businesses relying on locked-down operating systems and platforms tightly controlled by commercial organizations are numbered, according to Hadoop creator Doug Cutting.
Proprietary software platforms put businesses at the mercy of the platform vendor, often locking them into accepting regular price hikes, Cutting told ZDNet.”
"I don't think people are going to want a platform technology to be proprietary ever again. I think we moved past that. Linux might have been the first to make that point and I think we're emphasizing that here [with Hadoop]," said Cutting, now chief architect at Hadoop software and services company Cloudera.
Cutting believes that what will kill business demand for proprietary platforms is the threat of lock-in, where a customer is dependent on a vendor for products and services such that they cannot switch to another vendor without suffering substantial costs. These costs often stem from a lack of interoperability between a platform or application a business is using and a competing product they want to switch to."


Zerowait’s SimplStor platform is designed to be adaptable to the needs of users of big storage archives which today are in the range of 250 TB to 1 Petabyte.  SimplStor is a success because the benefits of open source clearly outweigh the risks of a vendor who holds all the keys getting acquired or going out of business.

"At higher levels there's less risk of lock-in. You're not locked into it in the same way, because all your business logic, all the applications are written in terms of the open source platform."

Mr. Cutting is right, it may take a few years but only the most extreme storage systems in the future will have proprietary locked in architectures. SimplStor is a success because it complements proprietary systems as an archive and due to its flexibility it allows High End Storage systems to manage the top 20% of storage while it quietly grows and manages the 80% of storage that is unstructured and occasionally used. 

By the way, I prefer Snap On tools because I like their warranty, and I just think their tools are of better quality and make repairs and projects easier. Their no-hassle tool replacement is a model for the Zerowait service and support model. An outstanding service and support partner makes life more enjoyable because you can spend time getting things done instead of talking to customer service and IVR systems.

You already know you are spending too much on proprietary systems and that only 20% - 30% of your data is tier one and may need the features of those systems – isn’t it time you looked at SimplStor for everything else?