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?

Monday, October 03, 2005

Where are you going with your storage architecture? What is your destination?
Are you looking just to solve today's storage problems or do you have a 3 to 5 year strategic storage plan?

Most of the customers we deal with on a regular basis have a strategic storage plan. They like their NetApp equipment and they plan to stay with their architecture for a few years. One problem that these satisfied customers run into is that they have a homogeneous environment that is easy to maintain and has a single type of Storage shelf and head. But if they need to add equipment they find that NetApp has superseded their units. So they must either purchase a dissimilar unit or find a secondary source that stocks older equipment.

Often they find Zerowait, and are happy to learn that we not only stock the equipment, but also have transferable software protocol licenses from NetApp. So if you are looking to expand your superseded NetApp equipment, please give us a call. Zerowait stocks a huge variety of NetApp equipment at affordable prices.