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.