Friday, December 30, 2005

What makes NetApp a commodity product?

commodity-A generic, largely unprocessed, good that can be processed and resold. Commodities traded in the financial markets for immediate or future delivery are grains, metals, and minerals. They are generally traded in very large quantities.

An astute reader sent me a question related to the business week article on NetApp. Here is the quote that the reader questioned.

NetApp is not only notching hefty sales (expected to hit $2 billion in fiscal 2006) but it has also managed to maintain sky-high 60%-plus gross margins, despite building its gear with commodity, off-the-shelf parts.

And here are his comments related to the article.
How can NetApp claim to be made from  commodity 
parts when the Xyratex DS 14 shelves,
drive canisters, ESH, Power supply and motherboard
are all proprietary. The Intel processors and
the Seagate drives are commodity parts, but you
just can't put an off the shelf drive into a NetApp
system and expect it to work.

How is NetApp any less proprietary a system then EMC?
To call a NetApp filer a commodity system is absurd.

Perhaps NetApp has a different definition of commodity ?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Data performance figures that you can trust.

Jon Toigo, wrote an excellent piece for Byte and switch . I really suggest that you read it. He speaks about how storage decisions are reached in a world of incomplete data. Whether it is intentional or not, it is almost impossible to get repeatable figures on Data Storage devices. So the only information that a rational decision maker can use in making a storage purchasing decision is through vendor's marketing, and friendly user experience. For obvious reasons, storage vendors provide reference accounts from companies with marquee names, and positive experiences.

Doing research on the web allows decision makers to learn more about the user experiences other customers have had, but it is hard to find reliable information on negative experiences with a storage vendors software or hardware. What a storage researcher gets is a heavy dose of a storage vendor's marketing information, and some positive experiences from a few selected customers.

As an independent vendor of NetApp equipment we can provide our customers information about which products work best together and how to extend the duty cycle and life cycle of their NetApp products. We don't sell new NetApp equipment, so we are not held back from speaking our minds about the performance of the newest models as compared to the superseded model. We make no money at all if our customers buy new NetApp equipment.

Providing unaffiliated NetApp service and support allows us to provide best of breed solutions to our customers, and to give an unbiased opinion when it comes to their NetApp buying decisions. Many customers send us their quotes for review from NetApp and their resellers. We suggest configuration changes and tell them about the market prices that we are seeing at other accounts. For instance, just the other day a customer called us up and asked about the discounts he said he was receiving from NetApp. NetApp told them they were 75% off list price. I pointed the customer to some websites that list NetApp's prices and told him to do some research on the price quote he received.

Carefully review the performance figures that are being touted when you are looking at your equipment. Ask for verification of the performance figures, ask for license transferability, read their software contracts carefully. Don't be afraid to negotiate with NetApp, give us a call if you want some tips..

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Businessweek has another interesting article on NetApp.
Here is the link

Here are some interesting links:

People who know you know that you're outspoken on the topic of stock-option expensing. What are some of the other issues you feel passionately about?
Sarbanes Oxley. It may go a long way toward increasing shareholders' confidence in Corporate America, but it won't diminish fraud and other types of unethical behavior. New controls will just be abrogated the same way the old ones were.

Look at MCI and Enron. They're not being prosecuted based on new code. Those cases are based on laws that were already in place. So I really think it was a futile effort to try to legislate business ethics. And it has had a set of consequences that aren't helpful. For example, I used to have a much closer consultative relationship with our auditors, but you really can't do that anymore. You almost need a separate team of financial consultants so you can then go to your auditors and say, "Here's where we stand."

You shouldn't be able to control your auditors, but you ought to be able to ask their opinion -- to ask, "Is this something you'd support, or that you'd have a problem with?"

We used to do that all the time. Instead, our audit fees have doubled [since SOX was implemented], and the value derived has halved. So I think SOX took a terrific 10-year relationship we had with Deloitte & Touche and made it far less productive.

Is SOX an isolated problem, or is there a larger concern?
I think the whole attitude toward business in America these days is still suffering from the abuses of the bubble period. But the long-term consequences are that we will diminish America's competitiveness. You can see it through the brain drain. If you can't get the big options package here -- well, they don't have that problem in India or China. So I'm not sure the American people and politicians are thinking about this as a global issue.

I personally think we're heading right down the same track Europe has been on. They've got great education [systems] and excellent people, but name a successful European computer company? They've dampened the entrepreneurial spirit and the opportunity to create a highly successful enterprise. So my fear is that we're going to end up pushing a lot of investment and entrepreneurs to other countries that we really ought to be considering our competitors on the world stage. I'm glad I had my era when I did, because my son's era is going to be a lot tougher.

But isn't that a cop-out? You and other tech CEOs in your 50s have made your money, and yet you're for the most part just pointing to the problems rather than offering real solutions. Shouldn't your generation of CEOs be doing more?
You're right. I've made my money, and I can live happily after. But I don't think we're empowered to stand up. That may be a cop-out. But the attitude toward business is still pretty negative, particularly toward tech.

Perhaps Mr. Warmenhoven should read some Adam Smith to get some perspective for his views of capitalism.
"Every individual...generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention."

Friday, December 23, 2005

"Genius is one per cent inspiration, ninety-nine per cent perspiration." Edison

Working with our staff and customers on problems we often find that Edison was correct. What has puzzled us for quite a while is why it seems that in Benjamin Franklin's time, inventors were younger than they seem today. But here is an article which I have linked to that seems to explain why this may be. I suggest reading the complete article, it is not very long.

Innovative thinkers are innovating later than they used to. While conventional wisdom holds that creative thinkers do their best work when they are young, a study by NBER researcher Benjamin Jones shows that over the past century the average age at which individuals produce notable inventions and ideas has increased steadily.

Jones notes that, unlike athletes, who do not require increased training demands over time, innovators appear to spend increasingly significant portions of their early years in education - a kind of human capital acquisition that might well explain the age trends in his study. Because the rules and requirements of their fields of endeavor remain fixed, athletes are not obliged to increase their human capital; accordingly, the data show no distributional shift in the ages of top athletes over the years. But thinkers must increasingly invest in acquiring intellectual capital, and the accumulation of knowledge - the rising distance to the frontier - can explain increased educational attainment.

Jones notes that economists have not focused much on the human capital investments of innovators. Because innovators customarily devote their youngest and perhaps brightest years to acquiring their education, understanding the tradeoffs at the beginning of the life-cycle may be of primary importance for understanding the ultimate output of these individuals - and for understanding why great innovation is steadily declining among younger thinkers.

Have a great holiday!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong.
Ronald Reagan

In storage, I see no end of hard problems. I see customers' data growing, and I see customers worried about consolidating, operating and protecting increasing amounts of data. I see the burden of ownership for data getting worse as businesses rely more and more on the data they own, and as the legal requirements increase to keep data accessible yet private. No end of problems in sight. Dave Hitz

Will Storage and Network Technology make it easier or harder in the next few years to manage and secure your data storage? As technologies standardize storage and security will certainly get easier, specialty niche markets will develop on new technologies and entrepreneurs will jump into these new niches and develop businesses based on them. My prediction is that entrenched vendors will fight to maintain their profits in their business lines, and slowly markets will be taken away from them by lower cost solutions.

Listening to your customers is the best way to assure that any business can continue, for any business today must evolve with its customer base, and watch for new niches as they develop. Toigo Partners and Zerowait are having an exclusive storage roundtable in a few weeks to discuss storage economics & business, we will report back on the trends we foresee developing.

From - Investors Business Daily "Following the herd is a sure way to mediocrity"
Why are all the storage vendors getting into security?

Is your NetApp filer's data worth $5.00 a day? If your business depends on your data it probably is. Ask Zerowait if you are concerned about your filer's performance and security, and how for $5.00 a day you can sleep at night.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Difficult is that which can be done immediately; the Impossible that which takes a little longer.
George Santayana

Often we get call for emergency technical support for customers with NetApp equipment. It takes commitment to provide this type of support. But customers depend on their Netapp filers for Mission Critical data storage, and when a filer is not serving data, it can be more than inconvenient,it can be quite costly. Over the last few years we have built a reputation for providing outstanding support and going the extra mile. Most of our largest support accounts still come to us by reference and word of mouth. Providing independent third party service and support for NetApp Filers allows us to provide our customers with solutions that don't always support NetApp's marketing and sales pitches.

If you have a difficult problem with your NetApp filer, and you are looking for an answer please give us a call. If you have a impossible problem - we would like to hear from you also.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Trust but Verify: Ronald Reagan

Do you believe the claims made by your storage vendor's marketing brochures? Do you believe the claims made by their marketing and sales folks? Can you renegotiate your contract terms if their performance does not meet their claims?

JonToigo touches on the issues relating to this in a blog over the weekend....

Prove It!

When a vendor makes a claim about the performance and value I am supposed to obtain from their stuff, they ought to be able to prove it. Stupid ROI calculators don’t fit the bill. They are tools for marketing that cannot capture my real operating or support costs, since I generally don’t know what they are and cannot contribute them to the equation anyway. I need performance data to help me compare products from several vendors who are competing for my business.

Zerowait is finishing up our tools that will be available very soon, they will provide NetApp Storage managers insights into how efficient their NetApp storage infrastructure is in comparison to our sample population of NetApp systems which we monitor. The interesting thing about our tools is that as we get more and more NetApp systems under our support program, we also get a better and better view of how efficient the sample population's storage is. The more customers we gather, the better the information. This model works in much the same way as a Barracuda firewall does. As more Barracuda's are sold, more spam is caught.

Is the mission critical data on your NetApp filer worth $5.00 a day? If so, you may want to call Zerowait.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Ask the Zerowait Engineer...

We received the following question from a customer.....

Your web site is saying some people reported 30% overhead with ZCS checksums. Performance-wise, should we opt for FC9s shelves with BCS drives?

If you are running your filers at 80-90% capacity then you might benefit from the extra speed of the BCS drives. If your filers are not maxed out then the extra benefit is minimal. The real advantage to the FC9 and DS14 shelves is not their ability to use BCS drives, but rather their ability to run large drives. The FC8 shelf power supplies aren't rated to handle the larger drives. Also the FC9 and DS14 shelves can be multi-pathed for redundancy. Generally, most people would not upgrade or change to BCS drives for the possible performance increase unless the filer is near capacity. If you see a "value add" in the other advantages, however, then it might be worth looking into.

The BCS are faster due to the ability to write the checksum into the extra blocks in the format. This saves time having to pull the checksum from the disk.

Is your filer's data worth $5.00 a day? If so, you may want to call Zerowait.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Incremental cost of storage software to the manufacturer. Today I got a call from a NetApp customer and he complained about the costs of NetApp software licneses. I told him that we had transferable NetApp licenses & I explained that he could negotiate with NetApp since the incremental cost to NetApp of an additonal license sale was essentially $0.00 . I then pointed him to an article about software pricing which helps explain NetApp's pricing formula. I have some excepts here.

"The more you pay, the more it's worth" goes the ironic old saying. But when Shapiro and Varian argue the benefits of personal pricing, they turn the old saying on its head and it becomes "the more it's worth to you, the more you should pay." Personal pricing is a practice where the information product vendor makes an offer to the prospective purchaser based upon a calculation of what the vendor believes the prospective purchaser is willing to pay.

"Let's take everybody's favorite (or least favorite) example, airline pricing," says Varian. "You can fly from here to New York on a full fare basis, it's two thousand bucks. If you stay overnight on a Saturday and purchase with a two-week advance notice then it's maybe four hundred bucks. So now you have to ask yourself, if they could only charge one fare, which would it be. Would it be closer to two thousand or closer to four hundred? And I say it would be closer to two thousand because of the business traffic: business people who have to go! They're the ones with the inelastic demand. What's happening is the airlines are reaching out and offering this deal to fill up the empty seats. My claim would be that people are better off because airlines have engaged in that price differentiation."

Is your filer's data worth $5.00 a day? Curious? Ask Zerowait!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Looking to lower your cost of NetApp Maintenance?
You are not alone!
"NetApp worked fine for us," he said. "It's not a bad product at all -- it was the cost of maintenance that was a problem." Barbieri said that he was interested in a next-generation product from NetApp, "but it's not going to be ready for another year or two, and they didn't give me an upgrade path to it."

Many customers turn to Zerowait for continuing service, support and upgrades of NetApp equipment. If you love the reliability of NetApp's Ontap operating system, but are astonished by their costs give Zerowait a call 888.811.0808.

Is the data on your NetApp filer worth $5.00 a day? More information soon!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Quantum leaps or stepping on your customers?

Recently NetApp's Dave Hitz has been writing about the quantum leaps that his company is taking. But as NetApp makes it's leaps it seems to leave many customers behind. As NetApp's customers recently learned, NetApp announced end of availabiltiy of its NetCache C1200 & C2100 products. These join a long list of products that NetApp has end of lifed. When NetApp ends a product their customers have come to expect a price increase on that product's support services. But customers are getting wise to this tactic, and are increasingly relying on NetApp third party support companies to provide ongoing NetApp support and NetApp parts services. Many of NetApp customers are also puzzled by the pricing of NetApp protocol licenses, they realize that the incremental cost to NetApp of each additional license sold is near $0.00. So they wonder aloud in conversations with us why they are charging outrageous sums for these licenses. I assure them that NetApp is negotiable on software license pricing and it never hurts to negotiate with them aggresively and I always suggest that they request license transferability.

specializes in third party support for NetApp equipment. We provide parts, service and support for NetApp's F760, F740, F720, F810, F820, F825, F840 & F880. We also support the Netcache C1100, C1105,C1200, c2100, C760 and C720. If you are looking for an affordable alternative for your NetApp support why not give us a call?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

NetApp sells used parts!
NetApp needs to recycle defective parts, many of which can be repaired, as quickly as possible. Product lifecycles in the high-tech world are notoriously short. A single circuit board might undergo 20 revisions over seven years, notes Fabiaschi. Yet customers are receiving brand 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.

The other day a large company's engineer called us up for a quote on some NetApp cards, we quoted him and then he wrote us back that he was concerned about the cards being used. I can understand his concern, especially since NetApp charges new prices for cards that are more often used then new according to the article above.

Zerowait sells used NetApp parts, we test them and guarantee them. And Zerowait will save you a bunch of money !

Monday, December 12, 2005

Can you decipher your NetApp Log files?
Do you know what all of the NetApp error messages mean?
When is the last time you read through your NetApp log files?
Zerowait works with our NetApp customers to take the mystery out
of their log files. Understanding your NetApp log files can help you avoid serious problems down the road, but can also help you understand how to optimize your NetApp filer now. If you have some specific questions about your log files and some of the messages why not give us a call? At Zerowait we have the answers to your most vexing NetApp questions.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

We were talking to a NetApp Customer the other day about upgrade options for his NetApp Storage Infrastructure. He told us that his NetApp representative had told them that the only option they had for service and support was to upgrade their systems as NetApp was no longer going to support their NetApp F720, F740 & F760 Hardware. He was non plussed as the hardware has worked unfailingly for years. He had heard about Zerowait from some of his friends in the business and called us. We processed his request for a quote for a ZPA policy for service and support and sent it off with a few references.

Later in the day he called us back and told us that he was forwarding our quote to his purchasing department because he was impressed with the comments he heard from the references we sent. He also told us that our other customers had told him about some of the other things we do, and he was interested in some of our NetApp engineering & NetApp migration services also.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Zerowait ships NetApp parts all over the world

Sometimes folks call us and are surprised how many NetApp customers we have and where we cover NetApp systems. NetApp customers all over the world have the same concerns and want to be treated fairly. Unlike many competitors, Zerowait has one price list for customers - domestic & international customers are encouraged to purchase off our web store for the same price. We also have dealers and partners that we deal with in Asia, Europe and South America. Sometimes, our partners work with us to provide on site engineering support through a region, and also act as a parts depot for us.

Whether you are looking for a transferable licensed NetApp R100, an emergency shipment of replacement parts, or a service and support plan, Zerowait specializes in NetApp equipment and we look forward to helping you.

Monday, December 05, 2005

End of year Scheduling.

As the end of the year approaches, we typically get a flurry of calls from folks who need a NetApp solution installed before the year end. Typically folks want both a trained NetApp engineer and NetApp equipment to meet their requirements. Scheduling sometimes gets a bit tight, but we can usually meet everyone's requirements.

Currently we are working on a few installation projects scheduled for the next few weeks. So if you are in a hurry give us a call soon!

Zerowait provides affordable alternatives for NetApp equipment, service and support.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Storage and Security

On Thursday I met with Jon Toigo in Washington DC for a few hours. We discussed many subjects, but most of our time was spent discussing security and the lack of common sense in the industry. Vendors are focused on their technical solutions when selling to customers and sell security as if it were some magic software, and yet they sell their storage equipment with every cabinet keyed alike. Would you put your most valuable possessions in a bank where all safety deposit boxes had the same key? Of course not!

Ronald Reagan said 'Trust but Verify', it is good advice for customers involved in the data storage and data security business today.

Lot's of times we have customers call us who need to rent a few TB of NetApp storage for a data migration or for a special project. As we have in an enormous stock of NetApp storage shelves we can usually configure an affordable NetApp storage rental solution to fit your budget and short term requirements. If you have a short term NetApp Filer requirement, give us a call. 888.811.0808

Thursday, December 01, 2005

NetApp Transferable Licenses -NetApp R100, NetApp FAS940, NetApp F840, NetApp 820 and NetApp F810 - these systems are certified by NetApp and eligible for NetApp support or our ZPA coverage.

Zerowait stocks systems with transferable
NetApp licenses. We have NFS, CIFS,
Cluster & I
SCSI protocols available.
We sell a lot of these systems and support hundreds of filers in the field. But for one reason or another, we occasionally hear that a NetApp sales person has told a customer that there is no such thing as a transferable licensed NetApp system. Whether NetApp sales people are misinformed by their management, or just trying to muddy the waters we can't tell you. But we can prove that there are transferable licenses available. If you want a copy of the documentation simply send us an email and we will send you a PDF of a unit we have in stock.

Zerowait's staff is dedicated to providing NetApp customers with outstanding value for their storage dollar. Customers can save 50% on a transferable licensed filer as compared to a new filer, and they can save even more if they decide to use Zerowait's third party service and support for NetApp equipment.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

NetApp Storage Costs

Can you look at the cost of your NetApp storage in isolation? By its very definition Network Attached Storage needs to have a Network for it to work. How do you include network costs in your cost of storage? How do you include network management in your cost of storage? Suppose that, as in many organizations we support, the storage folks don't run the network and the network budget is under a different department.

How do you account for the cost of storage? Working with some of our customers we came up with a way to account for storage costs which will include the costs of networking, manpower required and data center overhead costs. It is one of the many services that we provide.

Zerowait has hundreds of NetApp filers under support, and I can't think of any one of these systems that works in isolation. Our engineers have to know about networking, routing, backup and restore processes to solve the questions they are asked everyday by our customers. A few weeks ago our engineers were working with a customer to improve their storage speeds. The filers were not taxed at all, the problem was in the network. Now that the problem has been identified, another department needs to address it. I wonder if the network folks will call it a storage problem or a network bottleneck in their budget request?

So when someone asks us what does NetApp cost, we have to ask what kind of Network infrastructure they have and what their future needs will be. At Zerowait we provide affordable alternatives to NetApp for service, support and upgrades - but we also provide engineering and integration services that include the network in the cost of the process.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

"We're not junk, we're not scrap, and we won't be treated that way!"
-- From the movie ROBOTS.

As most of our readers know, we do a tremendous business in NetApp replacement parts. There are a lot of reasons for this, but I would say that you can break the reasons down into three major categories

1) Parts prices - If Zerowait has the parts you are looking for we will attempt to provide the part at the most competitvie price possible. We offer the NetApp parts with either a 30 day standard warranty or optional 1 year or 3 year NBD parts replacement. Most of our popular NetApp parts are listed at, so you can shop and compare.

2) Parts compatibility - Zerowait's staff is recognized for our knowledge of parts compatibility among NetApp's user community. We can tell you which shelves, adapters and drives will work with different filers, and we can tell you the versions of software that will work also.

3) Service and support - Zerowait's engineers are constantly doing NetApp Migrations, NetApp Mirrors, and installations. We provide outstanding and affordable NetApp service and support for our customers.

These are the main reasons why our NetApp customer list keeps growing, but there are many others. If you would like to learn how you can save money on your next NetApp upgrade, please give us a call at 888.811.0808.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Over the holiday weekend I spoke to a few friends about their operational costs of storage. These guys work at a major bank with offices & Data Centers all over the world. They know that Zerowait provides service and support for NetApp equipment, and they were alarmed about the cost of storage support from NetApp and their other storage providers. We discussed their infrastructure, their utilization rates, and their actual cost of storage. Low utilization rates did not bother them, and neither did the acquisition costs of their storage.

Paying millions of dollars for NetApp parts and support really annoys them, they can't see the value. It was an interesting discussion because it seems that even the biggest banks in the world have the same cost control concerns that so many of our customers have.

Economics teaches us that there are always alternatives, the choices that the manufacturer makes about their continuing service and support costs are as important to their business as is their initial offering costs. Sooner or later the customers will start looking for lower cost replacement solutions. Many NetApp customers have already determined that Zerowait provides an affordable alternative for NetApp service and support.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving holiday

Zerowait will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday. We want to wish all of our customers and their families the happiest of holidays. I also want to thank my employees for their hard work and dedication to this company and our customers.

This has been a great year for Zerowait, our business has grown and so has our staff. Have a great Holiday!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

"I love Thanksgiving. It's the only time in Los Angeles that you see natural breasts." Arnold Schwarzenegger

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Can anyone verify this statement by NetApp's CEO in Byte and switch?
Dan Warmenhoven, CEO of Network Appliance. "NetApp provides customers with the best storage utilization rates in the industry, allowing them to decrease their total cost of ownership and increase their return on investment."

If you look at this analysis of a NetApp filer you will see that NetApp parity, NetApp's file system and NetApp's right sizing of NetApp disks take a significant proportion of the NetApp storage a customer purchases In this example, usable NetApp storage and NetApp set asides are about equal. Can it be that other storage vendors are worse at managing storage assets? It would be interesting to get these results from other vendors also.

At the end of the day, your cost of NetApp storage is dependant on how much of the raw storage capacity is used by the vendor's file system and overhead.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Suppliers and especially manufacturers have market power because they have information about a product or a service that the customer does not and cannot have, and does not need if he can trust the brand. This explains the profitability of brands. Peter Drucker

What causes a customer to no longer trust a brand? Where does he turn for a trusted advisor?

In our own lives for a variety of reasons most of us have turned to a new car repair shop because we no longer trust the local dealer's work. This happend to me about 8 years ago, I had a grinding sound in my cars front end. It was pretty obvious that I was having a spindle bearing problem. I first brought my car to the local Ford dealer, they told me there was nothing wrong and charged me for the time they spent. I was perplexed because I knew through research that there was a recall on the spindle bearings and Ford would pay to replace them. However, my local dealer would not listen to me. The next week I went to another Ford dealer, I explained the problem to the service supervisor and I told him that the other dealer would not fix the problem. He smiled and said not to worry, the problem was a known service problem and they would fix it at no charge.

The new dealer won a customer, the old dealer lost my business.

Zerowait tries to understand our customers needs and create affordable NetApp support solutions for them.
It appears that Peter Drucker was correct, while in California last week, I learned that many of our customers trust the Zerowait brand and our concentration on providing an affordable alternative to NetApp's high prices.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Dateline California

I have been in California the last few days visiting with NetApp service and support customers of ours. The first thing I notice when I come to California is that gas is about .50 a gallon more than in Delaware, and the traffic is incredible. Last night a bunch of old friends and I got together at the the steelhead brew pub in Burlingham. The crowd consisted of 3 former NetApp executives,a customer and myself. The beer was very good and the food was delicious. The conversation revolved around NetApp's strategic direction, tactical moves and where technology was going.
After a while everyone agreed that there does not seem to be a true strategic direction at all, but more of a 24 months or less view of the storage marketplace. Everyone agreed with me that financially storage assets are depreciated over a 3 to 5 year period, so it odd that NetApp does not align itself withthe customer view of their product's lifecycle.

Over a couple of hours we discussed many things and the parallels with SGI path since 1995 were astonishing. What is the strategic direction of NetApp? Does anyone know anymore?
For storage customers with critical data it is a prime concern, what happens if your proprietary storage vendor goes off course and you can't depend on them anymore?

Monday, November 14, 2005

What do you do when your critical NetApp data slips off the information super highway.

Step one is always to get things back up and running again, so traffic is not backed up to all of your clients and other applications. But at step two there is a fork in the road, Many companies go into break fix mode and then go into their RCA (root cause analysis) mode. Many times the RCA process is painful and so it is also know as a Root Canal Analysis in some circles.

Typically a simple oversight caused the data outage, and it is usually a simple fix. The cause of the oversight can be many things. We recently heard about a power outage in a data center that caused a filer to reboot. However, over time the filer had had shelves and drives added to it from another NetApp filer. So when the NetApp filer tried to reboot it found two boot volumes. The NetApp filer went into a cycle of reboots.

The Root Cause Analysis in this incident showed that the filer had foreign volumes. But who added the volumes, and why didn't they zero the drives? Adding NetApp shelves from one NetApp filer to another is easy to do, you just have to follow the right sequence for the shelf type you are using. Following a list of procedures when working with your critical NetApp data storage is an easy way to make certain that you don't foul up your critical data storage, and also have a back out plan.

When landing under instrument conditions you should always read the missed approach portion of the landing procedure before you need it. It is always easier to be prepared then to have to react without knowledge. If you are concerned about your NetApp storage migration and want a helping hand, give Zerowait a call, you will be glad you did.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Hanging by a wire

Sometimes things just don't go as planned. But someone has to take responsibility and someone has to solve the problem, for a big problem the solution takes a team.

Often we are asked to solve problem where, for one reason or another, the storage administrator does not have a reliable back up or even boot disks. Sometimes we get a call where aNetApp filer is rebooting repeatedly and theNetApp storage administrator doesn't know why. Many times this is caused because folks add drives or shelves from another filer and the filer sees a new volume, or a shelf with the same ID #. Getting to the root of the problem is often a case of pulling back layers of small incremental changes and figuring out what happened to get to the point where the customer called Zerowait.

Zerowait provides NetApp customers with affordable technical support and service options for their critical storage needs. Although we prefer to help our customers with disaster prevention plans, we can also help in your disaster recovery efforts.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

" I didn't really say everything I said" - Yogi Berra

Sometimes I get really confused when I read articles about NetApp's strategic direction, a week seems to make a lot of difference. I have put together a few clips that I think Yogi would appreciate.

IBM to NetApp: Eat our chips Jo Maitland 11/02
According to rumblings among Wall Street analysts, the IBM-Network Appliance (NetApp) OEM deal may have stalled due to a surprise request by IBM. Word has it IBM has asked NetApp to port its Data OnTap 7G operating system to an IBM chip.
When IBM announced in April that it would OEM the majority of NetApp's NAS filers, the market applauded. Analysts say the deal would mean a significantly wider distribution channel for NetApp and finally a formidable NAS product line for IBM. However, the two companies have clamped shut on talking about the arrangement since.
The first product resulting from the alliance, the IBM TotalStorage N3700 (NetApp's FAS 270) entry-level box, began shipping in August. IBM is expected to deliver the rest of the product line by year's end -- just eight weeks away. If the chip rumor is true, it's unlikely we'll see these products any time soon.

Big Blue plugs the gaps

Its NetApp alliance should help IBM cover the gaps in its product line-up and take on market leader HP on an even footing, says Prashant L Rao.11/07/05

What do you do if you are a front-runner in a hotly contested market segment where the leader’s crown is up for grabs virtually every quarter? If you’re IBM, you team up with NetApp to cover the weak spots in your storage line-up and make a charge for the pole position which is currently held by HP. Therein hangs a tale.

IBM releases second set of NAS Arrays 11/09/05 Lucas Mearin

The IBM System Storage N5000 series comes from IBM's reseller agreement with Network Appliance, is targeted at remote offices or enterprises with distributed environments and can be configured for disk-to-disk backup or archiving with write once, read many (WORM) capabilities.

"We’ve seen some hesitation from IBM in the past to stick with a given plan. They’ve been in and out of the NAS marketplace. This time they look happy with the product set," said Dave Reine, an analyst at The Clipper Group.

In September, IBM introduced the 3700 NAS array, a rebranded NetApp FAS270 file server. Today’s announcement stems from a rebranding of NetApp’s FAS3020 and FAS3050 arrays.

The IBM System Storage N5200 and N5500 products will be available on 9 December in single and dual storage controller models, with the N5200 starting at $60,000 and the N5500 starting at $85,000.

Reine predicted that both products will sell well, not only because they are based on proven technology from NetApp, but because they now have the backing of IBM’s service support and end-to-end technology expertise for integrating the storage into any data center environment.

Am I the only one confused?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Over the last few weeks we have been getting a lot of requests for service and support of 900 series filers. It seems that many NetApp users are stunned that their support prices after year three from NetApp are over $40,000 a year.

If you are working under a tight budget and trying to cut some of your support costs give us a call, we may be able to help you save a bundle. Wheter you have one filer or thirty, a Zerowait Parts Assurance policy can save you a bundle of money, without giving up on quality service or support.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Celebrating a milestone

Every year we set goals for our service & support business and our parts and upgrades business. We surpassed our goal this year in the service and support business already and we went out for a celebration. We had a great time, and it was because of our customers. Our customers recognize that there is an affordable alternative to NetApp for service, support and upgrades.

The NetApp storage support business is a horizontal field - long and wide. Each NetApp customer has different objectives and cost parameters. Therefore, NetApp's stovepipe support solutions won't meet everyone's needs. Zerowait's customizes our support business to our customer's requirements. One size does not fit all. Not every customers needs 2 hour or 4 hour onsite support, and many of our customers like to have an assisted self maintenance program for their NetApp equipment.

To our satisfied customer family I would like to say ' Thank you' and I hope that our non- customer readers will join the Zerowait family of satisfied customers.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Zerowait sold a bunch of our NetApp Service Contracts this week : FAS960 Service & Support, F880 Support, F840 upgrade and installation, F85 for F810 swap.

Next week's schedule includes a NetApp cluster installation, & NetApp storage migration.

Every week we get new customers for our alternative to NetApp's high prices for parts service and support. Our established customers continue to purchase NetApp filers from us, many customers like our trade in deals on NetApp equipment. We are always purchasing more equipment, because as our support customer list grows we need an ever larger supply of parts for our spare parts reserve. Please keep us in mind if you have a NetApp take out opportunity or recently decommissioned NetApp equipment. As we build our parts depots around the country in the next few months we will be looking for even more used NetApp F840, F880 FAS940, FAS960 systems as well as R100 and R200 systems.

As the leader in third party NetApp Service and support, we have a growing list of NetApp requirements. We can provide you a reasonable price for your used NetApp equipment and spares kits.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

How much of your NetApp total storage is dedicated to File system overhead, spares, and right sizing of disks?

Do you care?

Not everyone is concerned about how much it costs to purchase and operate a storage subsystem that starts at only 70 % efficiency. Many people feel reliability is more important than cost.

“Today, a cost-efficient, secure, and reliable remote disaster recovery strategy is critical—customers have no room for lost or inaccessible data,” said Patrick Rogers, vice president of Products and Partners at Network Appliance.

How can customers have room on their arrays for lost or inaccessible data when parity and spares take up more of their system than data storage?

Taking the graphic in this posting, and using its information we are able to explain where a customer's storage budget is being used. As you can see, the usable storage in this graphic was less then 30%, but they had almost 35% reserved in spares. Imagine if this was an inventory item and you had to keep more spare parts for replacement than you used in production! Another interesting thing that this graphic shows is that parity usage almost equals usable storage.

In this example over 1/3 of the NetApp filer's space is used up for system purposes. Over 1/3 is used for spares, and less than 1/3 is available for storage purposes. This example shows that the usable NetApp storage cost that this customer is paying for is quite expensive, since less then 33% of the storage system is actually used for storage. Using 2 or 3 36GB disks for your boot sector and 144's or larger for your data volume can save you a lot of space on your total storage in a NetApp array, but that is only a start.

Zerowait can help you maximize your NetApp storage utilization, which will help keep your costs of storage down!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

What is your storage comfort level? How much is it costing you?

Many of our customers know what it costs to acquire storage, but very few have a way to assess the costs of holding on to excess storage. At what point are you in the cautionary area and when are you at the critical point, where you must add storage to your system?

Is it possible to migrate your storage data that has not been accessed in quite a while to a less expensive storage array? Is it possible to delete files that were only accessed once in the past three years? How much unaccessed , dead data is sitting on your most expensive storage arrays? How much would it cost to swap out your NetApp 36GB drives and insert 144GB drives in their place? Is upgrading your storage array a better option then replacing it entirely?

If your budget is under scrutiny but your storage requirements are going up, Zerowait can help you answer these questions, and help you get back to your comfort level.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Opening the door to NetApp savings:

A lot of NetApp's customers call us and complain about NetApp prices for service, support and upgrades. After they call us, they explain their needs and requirements and we provide them with an affordable alternative to NetApp's high prices. When customers have 10, 20 or 30 NetApp filers the savings with our service and support policies can amount to several thousand dollars.

In addition to the real savings that these customers receive on their NetApp filer support, they also receive our services that illustrate how they can more efficiently allocate their NetApp storage resources. NetApp's sales folks are in business to sell you more storage, not to show you how to efficiently use your current storage. At Zerowait, our focus is on helping customers capture cost savings hidden in the NetApp infrastructure.

If storage efficiency is important to your organization, give us a call. We look forward to speaking with you.

Friday, October 28, 2005

What is your total cost of storage?

Do you consider your overhead costs when you look at your storage costs? How much does it cost for your non critical storage to be on your most expensive storage assets? This graph shows the weighted cost of storage for a single NetApp 840 filer given the cost parameters we were provided with. What is interesting is the cost of MP3 storage on this corporate asset. I wonder if the stockholders know how much it costs to store MP3's on their NetApp storage? Maybe they don't care?

Zerowait can help you discover your total cost of storage.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

What does 4 hour support mean to you? What does it mean to your vendor?

This should be such a simple answer to get, and yet in talking to customers who have purchased 4 hour support from NetApp there seems to be quite a few different interpretations.

When does the clock start ticking on the 4 hour delivery? Does it start when your autosupport of a problem goes out to NetApp? Does it start when you call NetApp to open a trouble ticket? Does it start when NetApp confirms with you a problem? I have heard all of these answers.

Does NetApp's 4 hour support mean a NetApp engineer will deliver and install the replacement parts and get your system up and serving data again within 4 hours or just show up in 4 hours?
Some customers have told us that 24/7 & 365 days a year they will have a NetApp engineer at customer site and putting in the parts to get them running again within 4 hours. Other folks have told me that they have some delivery guy show up and drop off parts. And yet a few other folks have told me that their NetApp 4 hour support is only M-F 8AM -5PM. Outside those hours the parts will be delivered Next Business Day.

There seems to be some confusion amongst NetApp's customers about what 4 hour support means, but there is no confusion about the cost of the 4 hour support from NetApp. Universally we hear that is is very expensive. Zerowait currently offers Next Business Day parts replacement and also a replace to an OnSite spares kit program. This provides our customers with immediate access to their critical spares requirements. Additionally we are working on our domestic parts depot program now, and it should be rolled out in the next few months. If you have thoughts on what the best practices are for a 4 hours support program please write us and let us know what interests you the most.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Zerowait Service and Support policies.

Over the last few years our service & support business has been growing very consistently. You can view our latest press release here.

About 90% of our Zerowait Parts Assurance (ZPA) policies are in the contiguous 48 states. But we also are supporting customers overseas in
Europe, Asia and South America. At a recent conference, several European and Asian companies asked if they could partner with us for their regions. And we are currently reviewing their proposals. We are also working diligently on our domestic network of 4 hour or less parts depots.

We understand that our customers need service and support policies that fit their budget and their unique requirements. Not all customers fit into a stovepipe service solution, so we customize our support options to their needs. Whether our customer requires a single site supported or multiple sites and assistance managing their NetApp storage infrastructure our engineers, and support folks can help them.

If you are looking for an affordable and high availability service and support solution for your NetApp requirements, please give us a call. You will be glad you did.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Storage Pollution

Watching how clouds flow through the Appalachian mountain valleys the other day on the way back from Chicago reminded me of some of the charts and graphs I have see of how available storage works it way through an organization. Storage is viewed almost like air in many organizations. End users don't recognize that there are costs involved with using storage.

Management costs, operational costs, migration costs, and on and on. But like air, the individual does not see his cost of polluting the environment. Society and government agencies regulate air pollution, but only storage managers can slow the growth of wasteful storage within the organization. Should we call wasted storage usage storage pollution?

Zerowait is working with some of our larger customers on software to help them manage storage pollution by looking at the costs of storage by user, extension and client. If you are interested in learning more about controlling your storage costs, please give us a call


Monday, October 24, 2005

Ice over Altoona!

The forecast was for a clear day. But over Altoona, PA I was in the clouds and light rain at 5000 feet. I was watching my thermometer drop toward freezing, and before you knew it, I had accumulated a coating of rime ice. I called Pittsburgh approach & told them I was accumulating ice, I asked if I could climb out of the clouds. they gave me the ok and at 6500 I broke out. The ice did not sublimate until I reached Harrisburg, PA. I landed about 30 minutes later without any problems.

Our storage customers often run into unforecasted conditions with their storage hardware. Sometime it is because a new application takes up more storage then anticipated, sometimes it is a configuration issue. But when they call us for engineering help, our prime concern is to make certain that we can solve our customers problem quickly and then to stabilize their NetApp storage environment, and then we look at how to improve their storage to avoid the situation in the future.

Sometimes the forecast is wrong, but as long as you have an alternative solution, and a reliable ally you can make it through and land safely. This is true in computer storage and flying. This weekend the folks at the FAA's Pittsburgh facility were able to help me through, and I sure appreciated their help!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Maybe it is time to update?

How do you determine when it is time to replace your equipment? Is it a capacity decision, a financial decision or a reliability decision? Do you review all of your upgrade options or just trust that your chosen storage vendor?

Since your storage solution has to last 5 to 7 years it pays to take a long term veiw of your service , support and upgrade costs. Also remember that your storage vendor contract is negotiable, you have to ask for them to put license transferability in the license agreement and also you should make certain to put a not on you PO mentioning that you would like to have the ability to use third party support as an option in the future.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Stop, don't walk, you can't do that!

Over the last few years I have been given free advice on our business many times. Typically, it involves what we can't do for this reason or that. We were told by the sales folks at NetApp when we were resellers for them that there was no such thing as a transferable software license from them. We learned that that was not true, NetApp grants transferable licenses to those that ask for them. Zerowait sells transferable licensed filers all of the time now. It makes sense for customers and it makes sense for the organization that is selling their older filer to maximize their return on investment. Having a transferable license for your NetApp equipment is a good idea, you should ask for one from you NetApp sales person and also write "transferable licenses required" on your Purchase Order when you buy your new NetApp equipment.

Zerowait was also told that it was impossible to build a business as a third party service and support organization specializing in NetApp products. We were told it was too much of a Niche product and that no big companies would buy third party support from a small company like ours. Well, that also was not true, just look at our customer page on the web. I think you will agree that we have built a pretty substantial customer base.

So, when you are told by your NetApp sales person that you can't buy transferable licensed filers, give us a call or send us an email and we will send you a sample of NetApp's license transfer documents. If your NetApp sales person tells you that you can't get service, support, parts and upgrades from Zerowait just ask him why not? And if you just want to get a better price from NetApp, show them a quote from Zerowait.

Zerowait provides high availability service, support and upgrades for your NetApp equipment.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I'm in Chicago for a conference and also visiting with some customers. Lefthand Networks has sold their equipment into at least two of NetApp's accounts in town. Both accounts seem very happy with the price point and performance. Jon Toigo has told me to watch these guys. Perhaps NetApp should also?

Monday, October 17, 2005

External Combustion - 100 years ago it was high tech

Times change, and so does technology. Sometimes things improve but often there are unintended consequences. Recently a number of our customers have been asking them to help them upgrade their NetApp firmware. One of our first steps is to try to get an understanding as to what the company does and how it uses its filers. The reason we try to ascertain this is that some of NetApp's firmware releases have a lot of bugs. So while the upgrade may fix one problem it might introduce two or three new ones. Since we maintain so many NetApp filers we have the knowledge to help you navigate the upgrade minefield and avoid some of the nasty surprises.

There are a lot of NetApp customers still running version 5.3 of ontap in NFS only shops on their F760's without a bit of trouble. They have no reason to upgrade, their systems are stable, and they are happy with their systems as they are. These customers rely on Zerowait for our parts replacement services and our technical support. Although their reasons may vary a little, the main reason that Zerowait continues to add service and support customers is that our support is so much more affordable then NetApp's.

At our warehouses, we keep a tremendous stock of legacy NetApp equipment. If you are looking for an affordable alternative to NetApp for parts, service, support or upgrades I hope you will give us call and perhaps join the Zerowait family of satisfied customers.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Who is watching your back?

Recently there has been a lot of press about the storage security problem,
And Dave Hitz of NetApp in his blog has written extensively about the security issue. He ends his blog last week with.

The bottom line is that for many applications, there is simply no practical alternative to cryptographic deletion, and lacking any practical solution, what people are doing is nothing at all. To me, the question isn’t whether cryptographic deletion is perfect - the question is whether it’s better than anything else we’ve got.

In summary, even though locks aren’t perfect, I’m going to keep locking my house.

What has puzzled me for quite a while is the following question. If NetApp's executives are so concerned about Data Security why are all of NetApp's cabinets keyed alike?

If you are concerned about data security, a good place to start is by securing your data storage cabinets. Changing your NetApp cabinet locks is an inexpensive place to start. With thousands of NetApp cabinets sold, you can be sure that some nefarious folks have the keys to your data storage cabinet.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Your legacy NetApp equipment is not a historic relic from a bygone era.

But I wonder how many NetApp filers will be running over 100 years from their manufacturing date? I can assure you that there are thousands of NetApp 700 series systems still running. Zerowait has the parts service and support to keep them going strong. A lot of our customers have older NetApp equipment that is still working fine and not even close to maxed out on the storage capacity. NetApp made thousands of F760's and F840's that were sold with only a TB or two of storage. Many of these machines are humming along nicely not even close to 50% of the IOPS that the equipmentis rated for. A few of our customers have done the cost comparisons between the acquisition cost of upgrading with NetApp's new equipment and the option of upgrading the storage on their legacy NetApp equipment and putting the system under Zerowait maintenance. The savings were startling.

A lot of NetApp customers call us up because they want to add storage to their legacy equipment. But they run into costs or unavailability problems from their NetApp resellers and NetApp itself. So, they call Zerowait. We stock thousands of NetApp drives and hundreds of shelves of different varieties in our warehouse.We have heads available in 700 series, 800 series, 900 series and RXXX series units. Additionally we stock F85, F87, FAS250 and all sorts of adapters, cards and cables.

Zerowait is the affordable alternative to NetApp for parts, service, support and upgrades.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

We probably have a NetApp customer near you already!

We feel it is important to visit our customers, and so I have to travel a lot, and so do our engineers. Our customers expect us to live up to our High Availability reputation, and we do. In the next couple of weeks, I will be visiting most of our customers in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Indiana. And then I have to travel to the Southwest and Southern California. If you are considering your affordable alternatives to NetApp for service, support and upgrades and would like me to stop by. Just give us a call and we can try to match up my travel schedule with your availability.

If you are going to SNW 10/26 & 10/27 in Orlando, I will be there also.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Synchronizing time
It seems like such a simple concept. But when you have storage networks that span a wide area, things can get pretty complicated pretty quickly. When you are trying to move data between networks that are not synchronized, things can really get out of whack in a hurry. When critical storage devices have to fixed now, and not tomorrow, many NetApp customers rely on Zerowait.

Recently, we were working with a customer who has a NetApp cluster and things were not working correctly for him. He called us up, and told us his problems and our engineers started parsing out the issues. Once our engineers got all of the issues with firmware upgrades, volume sizes , dead disks and network issues figured out we were able to help them solve their problems pretty quickly.

Benjamin Franklin said 'time is money', and our customers recognize that when it comes to critical data storage infrastructures it is better to have the engineers at Zerowait on your team rather then wait to get things fixed Manana!

Zerowait provides expert advice on configuring NetApp storage systems, in addtion to providing an affordable alternative to NetApp's high prices for service, support and upgrades.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Watching an expert sand casting a mold recently, I was reminded of the time and expertise it takes to properly configure a Storage Network. So many of the storage installations we work with are set up with the general configurations suggested by the manufacturer and are never performance optimized for Structured (database) or unstructured data.

With NetApp equipment in particular, there are lots of settings that have to be addressed to maximize performance. And our engineers are working with customers daily on helping them optimize their performance with their NetApp equipment. NetApp systems need to be set up right and also these settings need to be reviewed whenever you upgrade to a new version of OnTap. As NetApp upgrades firmaware and adds features sometimes things need to be tweaked. Zerowait's engineers help customers around the world to optimize their NetApp performance. So, if you have NetApp systems that are not performing as well as you would like, why not give us a call? Zerowait's engineers may be able to help you get your performance back.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

More Data More Beer

Last week Dave Hitz blogged about a NetApp customer that pointed out that without their Data there woluld be no beer flowing. And that would be bad . You can read his blog here.

Zerowait is around the corner from the Iron Hill Brewery. After a succesful implementation for a customer we often go there to celebrate another High Availability NetApp storage installation. It really is a great place to go, the food is delicious and the variety of beers is fantastic. This week they have a Russian Imperial Stout on Special. It's Great! However, I usually order the Porter. Talking about Data OnTap while drinking a fresh micro brew is a time honored tradition. When I am in Palo Alto, CA. I usually have a gathering of customers at the Gorden Biersch Brewery. And when I am in Boston and Cambridge Massachussets we often get together with customers at the Cambridge Brewery near Kendall Square. When I am in Boulder visiting customers we go to the Brewery downtown to get together. I wonder how the close relationship developed between succesful storage installations and Micro Brew Beer? During the week of October 17 I will be visitng with customers in Chicago, I wonder which brewery we will gather at?

As many of you know, who have visited us in our offices, Newark , DE is a small university town. But there are a lot of good taverns, bars and restaurants in town. If you are traveling between New York and Washington DC, and trying to control your NetApp storage upgrade or support costs give us a call, we are just off I 95. Talking about NetApp and Beer go well together, maybe that is why they call it Data OnTap?.

Friday, October 07, 2005

"Many persons have an idea that one cannot be in business and lead an upright life, whereas the truth is that no one succeeds in business to any great extent, who misleads or misrepresents" John Wanamaker

Zerowait has built a business on supporting NetApp’s customers with an affordable alternative to their overpriced service, support and upgrade pricing. Often our customers can purchase the identical parts from us for 50% of what NetApp charges.

On Service and Support, former NetApp customers are saving thousands of dollars every year with our hardware maintenance contracts. Yesterday, we had a fellow come in who wants to work with us on developing our South American sales. He had heard about us through various contacts of his, he thinks that we should work on growing our business there. It is an interesting opportunity and one that we are now discussing internally. We currently do about 20 % of our business in Europe and Asia. But we have only a few customers in South America.

Developing a parts depot, and service and support facility in South America is an interesting idea. We had discussed opening up a European operation over the past couple of years, which based on our customer demand makes some sense. But now there is another growth opportunity to investigate.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Uninterrupted Email on a budget - saving your tax dollars!

A couple of years ago we started working with the folks at NASA on a storage solution for their email. It was a pleasure working with the folks at NASA as they were dedicated to creating an email solution on a budget - performance and reliability were important, not a slick sales presentation. The engineers at NASA realized that they could use transferable licensed NetApp units and Zerowait support services and save the taxpayer a small fortune. A few of their engineers came to our Demo Lab and worked with our engineers to develop a completely redundant solution. They no longer have to worry about losing emails, and the system has been running reliably for a couple of years now. If you would like to know more about this simple and reliable email solution, send us an email and I will forward it to the NASA engineers for you.

Zerowait helps many companies develop high availability solutions that provide security through disaster prevention. Although today our company is known for providing affordable storage solutions, we still do a lot of work with companies helping them engineer high availability solutions of all kinds.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Competitive pricing for NetApp support

The other day I was talking to a NetApp customer and I asked what I thought was a very simple question. 'Have you ever gotten a competitive price quote on any of your NetApp equipment.' His answer was 'no'. I asked him "why not?"

It always seems odd to me when I run into a customer that does not want to get the best price for his storage infrastructure's components and support. But I am also surprised that the NetApp customer that spends $500,000.00 on his Filer will not negotiate the Contract terms of NetApp's contract. Why would the same person who negotiates on terms on his new house or his new BMW or Lexus not negotiate with NetApp? Why not ask for transferable licenses for your NetApp filer? Would you buy a BMW if you could not sell the right to use it after three years? Why not ask NetApp to allow you to discuss the performance of the filer with other people? Can you imagine not being able to talk about the performance of your BMW? According to NetApp's contract you can't discuss performance.

There is something very odd in the marketing and sales of enterprise storage equipment. Why don't customers think they can negotiate better deals on their new equipment from NetApp? A simple tactic when negotiating for upgrades or support with NetApp is to ask Zerowait for a competitive quote for upgrades, service and support. Show them our quote and see if they change their prices because of competition, it can't hurt to try!

Zerowait provides excellent and affordable options for NetApp upgrades, service and support.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

I was shooting pool in Latrobe, PA recently with a friend and customer and we got to talking about the relative costs of computer storage for his company. This has been an on going discussion for many months and in many different locations . Over several months we have discovered that it is actually very hard to nail down the costs of storage in a large company. How do you account for staff per TB of storage? How do you account for operational expenses like heat, light, cooling, electric per TB of storage?

I started asking these same questions of some of our other customers, and now we have a whole bunch of people trying to figure out how can a company accurately charge your expense overhead to your storage infrastructure?

A follow up question to ask your vendors at time of purchase is what is the maintenance and support costs of the storage going to be for the lifespan of the storage equipment. These costs have a direct affect on the cost of your storage management.

What does it cost to run storage equipment for storage that is never or rarely accessed? How much does that cost in electricity? It seems logical that higher storage density should be less expensive to operate. But is it? Perhaps some of our readers can help us to answer these questions?