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.