Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Security, Storage, and Delaware's Senator Carper

Earlier this year Senator Carper was the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. Perhaps he now will become the committee chairman. Senator Carper has been focusing on Data Security, and in a world where Google is cataloging everything this is something we should all be concerned about. In the book 1984 Orwell's Big Brother was the totalitarian Government. It is strange to see that in today's reality it is Silicon Valley companies that are becoming Big Brother .

"We used to just worry about people breaking into our homes or stealing our cars, but in the 21st century, we have to worry about people stealing our identities via computers and the Internet,” said Sen. Carper. “Given what we’ve seen happen recently with security lapses at the Veterans Administration and other financial institutions, it’s imperative that we write a national law to help protect consumers from being victims of identity theft. This bill would require all financial institutions, retailers and government agencies to maintain strong internal safety protections for the data they hold, to quickly investigate any security breach, and notify law enforcement, regulators and the public when there's a real risk of harm.”

Data Security and in particular disk drive security is something the engineers at Zerowait know a lot about. In the coming year we look forward to seeing what develops in this arena. Will it be government or private enterprise that protects your privacy in the future?

Friday, December 22, 2006

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. - Gandhi

1) It was only a few years ago that people were telling us that it was impossible to develop a third party full service NetApp support organization.

2) As we picked up our first customers the NetApp sales folks would tell our new customers that there was no way that we could provide long term service and support contracts and 24/7/365 .

3) When we picked up customers like HP, CSC, IBM, RBS and many other strategic accounts NetApp started to notice us and their salesman would try to meet or beat our pricing, service and support levels.

4) We doubled our sales in 2006 and now we have a service depot in Manchester, England and we are looking to open one in Asia in 2007.

Have a great holiday!
Your friends at Zerowait.

More Bad news for Morgan Stanley
The National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) has accused investment house Morgan Stanley of lying that millions of emails it possessed were lost in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The more things change the more they stay the same

Recently while at the SNW show in Orlando, I heard that NetApp was switching its shelf supplier from Xyratex to Dot Hill. When NetApp shifted its purchasing from Eurologic to Xyratex it was the root cause of Eurologic going out of business. Currently, NetApp represents about 50% of Xyratex's business. That is a big chunk of business to lose.

Sticking with your strategic suppliers and building long term relationships is something that most companies profess to admire. NetApp says it wants its customers for the long term. Why would a company that professes its strategic relationships to its customers act tactically with its own suppliers? Can a company so focused on its own short term profits provide long term value to its customers?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Silicon Valley where Politics and Venture Capital Mix

It is always interesting to see who is contributing to Congressional representatives and see if it influences their votes. Silicon Valley's representive seems to be a favorite of the Venture Capital firms. Interesting? You decide.

Top Contributors

1 National Assn of Realtors $10,000
2 Laborers Union $8,500
3 Air Line Pilots Assn $7,500
3 Intl Brotherhood of Electrical Workers $7,500
3 National Venture Capital Assn $7,500
6 International Assn of Fire Fighters $7,000
7 Acorn Campus $6,200
8 Assn of Trial Lawyers of America $6,000
8 Ironworkers Union $6,000
8 Operating Engineers Union $6,000
8 Opnext Inc $6,000
8 Transportation Communications Union $6,000
13 Mele Assoc $5,848
14 Credit Union National Assn $5,500
15 McDonalds $5,100
16 American Federation of Teachers $5,000
16 Johnson & Johnson $5,000
16 National Air Traffic Controllers Assn $5,000
16 Service Employees International Union $5,000
16 Teamsters Union $5,000
16 United Auto Workers $5,000

Monday, December 18, 2006

How long do you want your data archive to be readable?

One of our friends just told us that NetApp will not allow their R100's to run anything above Version 7.1 of Ontap. Is this true?

Can NetApp's Nearstore line be considered a longterm solution ? Archiving should inherently be for a longer period than 3-5 years. Isn't that what the regulators require in HIPAA & GLBA and SARBOX?

Zerowait will have the parts for these systems for many years to come so our customers can remain in compliance, but will NetApp, their software vendor, make their newer systems backwards compatible?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Interesting Times

Monday, 11 December 2006
BlueArc Defends IP, Wins NetApp Lawsuit

BlueArc, a provider of network storage, has said that the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has affirmed the lower court's decision to dismiss the patent infringement lawsuit filed against the company by Network Appliance.

Does this mean that Direct NAS competition is looming for NetApp from another manufacturer? Add this to the HDS agreement posted today and BlueArc may be on an upward trend.
Hitachi Data Systems has signed an investment, OEM and reseller pact with high-end NAS developer BlueArc as part of a move to enter the high-performance computing market.

Also in today's email was this from the Equipment Leasing Assoc.

AeA has sent along the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) proposed language for the emergency regulation to implement the California RoHS requirements. The Director of DTSC has approved this version, and it will be formally posted once Cal/EPA signs off. Since this is being issued as an emergency regulation, there is only a 10-day public comment period (instead of the usual 45 days).
§66260.202 Restrictions on the Use of Heavy Metals in Covered Electronic Devices.

(a) On or after January 1, 2007, no person shall sell or offer for sale in California, a covered electronic device if the device is prohibited from being sold or offered for sale in the European Union on or after its date of manufacture due to the concentration of one or more heavy metals in the device exceeding its maximum concentration value, as specified in the Commission Decision of August 18, 2005, amending Directive 2002/95/EC (European Union document 2005/618/EC), or as specified in a subsequent amendment to the Directive.

(b) The prohibition in subsection (a) applies only to a covered electronic device that is manufactured on or after January 1, 2007.

(c) The prohibition in subsection (a) does not apply to a covered electronic device that is sold or offered for sale in California only for purposes of resale or offering for resale to persons outside of California.

(d) In determining the concentrations of metals for compliance with subsection (a), the Department shall not consider any cadmium, chromium, lead, or mercury, or any component containing any of those metals, which has been exempted by Directive 2002/95/EC, or by an amendment to the Directive.

(e) The prohibition established by subsection (a) of this section does not apply to a covered electronic device that would be prohibited from sale or being offered for sale in California based solely on metals used to meet consumer, health or safety requirements.

NOTE: Authority cited: Sections 25214.10, 25214.10.2, and 58012, Health and Safety Code; Section 42475.2, Public Resources Code. Reference: Section 25214.10, Health and Safety Code; Section 42465.2, Public Resources Code.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Bill and Michael's Excellent Adventure!

It looks like Microsoft and Dell are going after the boys of NetApp in Sunnyvale. Way back in time Dell and NetApp were friends. But the marriage ended in a messy divorce which left a lot of customers without an upgrade path.

Now it looks like MS and Dell are taking direct aim at Java Drive's profit center of licensing.
The Dell PowerVault NX1950™ with Microsoft® Windows® Unified Data Storage Server 2003 goes beyond traditional network-attached storage solutions. The integrated hardware and software system offers the performance, advanced management features and flexibility of a mid-range unified storage device at an affordable price. It can also help customers reduce complexity and storage costs by eliminating separate licensing for additional features and protocols such as snapshots, replication and resource management I'm sure NetApp is saying 'ouch' to this.

I wonder what the usable to raw storage ratios on this product offering are. At the price points that is advertised it could be quite painful to NetApp.

Available now, the system is priced from about $17,000.* Configurations with 4.5 TB start at less than $24,000.* Integrated solutions with clustering and drive expansion, along with

MS and Dell have very deep pockets - If they are succesfull in gaining market share the new competition may very well make NetApp ease their licensing restrictions, and this will be great for storage consumers.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Economist this week leads with a story about the falling dollar.

For Zerowait, and our NetApp customers, a falling dollar is a good thing. Currently, our European and Asian NetApp business is about 20% of our total yearly sales. A falling dollar means our Asian and European customers will be able to purchase our storage at a lower cost because their currencies will buy more dollars, and our NetApp storage is sold in dollars. This in turn means that Zerowait will be able to buy more inventory in the USA, and offer our European, Asian and American customers even lower prices.

The more customers we win, the more inventory we get, and the lower our overall pricing can be. It is a circle based on a competitive markets model that would make Adam Smith proud!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"It has become dramatically clear that the foundation of corporate integrity is personal integrity." (DiPiazza, Sam, CEO of PriceswaterhouseCoopers. May 13, 2003. It’s All Down to Personal Values. http:www.pwcglobal.com).

Jon Toigo called me on Wednesday and asked me if I had heard anything about tax trouble involving NetApp. I told him that I did not know anything regarding this issue, but I would look into it in the afternoon. By the afternoon his Blog had some insightful comments on the issue from someone who understands the financial aspects better than I do.

A short time after our conversation a customer sent me this link to an article which is worth reading completely.

And by the afternoon I had been sent a couple of other links which were interesting in regards to NetApp's Culture and Business Ethics, but this one was the most interesting from the San Jose Mercury

Splitting fact from fiction and hype is often difficult in the technology sector, what Karl Von Clausewitz said about war can apply to technology also. - "Many intelligence reports in war are contradictory; even more are false, and most are uncertain. "

From the Wall Street Journal 12/2/06

Marketing hype and sales puffery are one aspect of the business technology culture that most purchasers understand and kid each other about. Financial hype and puffery are taken a lot more seriously. I hope it all works out okay for NetApp, Dave Hitz and the gang created some great technology that many customers depend on for their data integrity. The better NetApp does, the bigger Zerowait's market becomes, therefore, I hope they solve these issues quickly.
Ephemeral Storage equipment

Over the last few weeks we have been speaking to a client that is rather concerned about the ephemeral nature of his NetApp equipment. Although he trusts his data is secure with NetApp, he was not so confident about the longevity of his NetApp equipment. He is concerned that according to his NetApp salesman he is going to have to upgrade his R100 and F800 series equipment, because NetApp is going to end support for them soon. Like so many of our legacy NetApp customers he is aggravated by the constant upgrade path that he is on, his conversation reminded me of the picture of a gerbil on a wheel of never ending upgrades. I assured him that we support several hundred NetApp filers around the world and that the equipment he has is very reliable. He asked to contact some of our references, and got back to me a couple of days later after speaking with them, he had a completely new understanding of his NetApp equipment and the life cycle we can provide him with. He was very excited by his newer lower cost of ownership and maintenance.

NetApp equipment can be long lasting and quite cost effective if you use our affordable alternative to NetApp for Legacy equipment support.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge and skill - Wilbur Wright

Just as Orville and Wilbur found out, if you study the fundementals you will learn that the common knowledge is often misleading or just plain wrong.

Almost on a daily basis we get calls from NetApp customers who have been misled by NetApp's sales folks or some NetApp broker or dealer about the equipment they have or as to whether it can be upgraded or serviced by a company other than NetApp. The common refrain from NetApp's folks is that there is no such thing as a transferable license or that you can't upgrade systems to use different shelves and drives.

At Zerowait we are specialists in NetApp equipment, according to our customers we provide better service and support than the manufacturer does, and that is not just for legacy equipment. NetApp's customers are learning that our Affordable Alternative to NetApp for service and support means that when they do upgrade we can help them save money. Recently there has been a thread on the NetApp newsgroup explaining how you can save money by playing IBM against NetApp for competitive quotes on the same equipment and software. From a negotiating strategy this is a great way to save serious money for a customer.

A recent posting on the newsgroup included the following:
From what I hear IBM is cutting the prices dramatically.

It is an interesting business strategy for IBM, they have put themselves in the reseller business for NetApp and are winning deals by cutting price. This means that their margins must be razor thin on a lot of these sales they are making. I never thought I would see IBM's sales force in the business of cutting prices to win any business they can. They used to be the gold standard. We are in interesting times as the year comes to a close .

But savvy customers can use these strange times to their advantage, NetApp makes great equipment and software - it is just way overpriced. But if you buy it from Zerowait you get all the advantages of NetApp equipment, and software with transferable licenses - at a fraction of the cost. And with our Zerowait support you will save even more - and have access to the best technical support for NetApp equipment.

Just ask our customers!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Holiday NetApp Transferable license specials:

FAS980's with NFS
FAS940's available with NFS / CIFS and Cluster
R150's with NFS / CIFS
R100's with NFS / CIFS

Many of our customers like to keep their environments as homogeneous as possible so we also have plenty of F880's, F840's and F825's available with transferable licensing also.

Call us at 888.811.0808 in the USA or 08000.121.801 in the UK - or email us at sales@Zerowait.com for a price quote. I hope you will join the Zerowait family of customers, you will be glad you did!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”
Henry Ford

* Beginning - Zerowait started introducing customers to NetApp's products in 1998 when we signed our reseller agreement. Our understanding of High Availability infrastructures made it a natural fit for our customers.

* Progress - When NetApp cancelled our reseller agreement most of our customers stayed with us for service and support of their NetApp equipment, because our service was more affordable friendlier and quite frankly BETTER!

* Success - Since 2002 we have added a lot of customers inthe USA and around the world. So many customers have been added that we have had to open an office in Europe, and we are looking to open an office in Asia in 2007. The reasons for our success are actually pretty simple.

- Long term focus on customers' support needs.
- Affordable alternatives to the OEM's pricing model - using transferable licensed equipment.
- Commitment to service levels.
- Tremendous depth of inventory that we keep growing to service our customers' legacy NetApp equipment.
- Specific custom analysis toolsets designed to support our NetApp equipment customers.

Henry Ford built a company based on a very simple philosophy, Bill Ford is currently struggling with the problem of a corporation that has lost its owner operated customer focus. Zerowait will continue to focus on the customer's needs. As the founder and president I can assure you of that.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

When Partners Compete Customers win!

From Toasters the mailing list of NetApp's users - a way to get better pricing on NetApp equipment. Make IBM & NetApp compete with each other!
We just went with a few IBM boxes here. We have 40 or so Netapp boxes. The determining factor for us was the price. They undercut by well over 100k on what we bought.

Henry Ford said - “Competition is the keen cutting edge of business, always shaving away at costs” Two sales organizations fighting for your NetApp filer business can save you a bundle!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

And now for something completely different.

My buddy Greg's amphicar has been swimming!

Monday, November 13, 2006

"If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there." Lewis Carroll

A couple of times a week I will get a call or be talking to a prospective customer who has a massive problem in his eyes. NetApp has just told them that they must upgrade their storage infrastructure because maintaining their old equipment will just cost a fortune. Upgrading is the salesman's obvious answer to the customers problem. When they call Zerowait they are told that there is third party maintenance available and that using virtualization front end enables them to make a large storage pool without going don the road that NetApp is suggesting.

The point is that there are many other roads available to NetApp customers who don't need to upgrade on their NetApp salesperson's timetable. Vittualization and transferable licensed filers enables them to get a lot more bang for their storage bucks.

Many of my friends own BMW cars. After the warranty expires they all complain about the price of service from their BMW dealers. They usually turn to an independent mechanic. At Zerowait we understand this problem and you can depend on NetApp for reliability, but you don't need to use their parts, service and support.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

“Competition creates better products, alliances create better companies.” Brian Graham

With Topio, NetApp and its partners get two key benefits, starting with low-cost disaster recovery, according to Rogers. "This will be quite popular with our customers. Now our NearStore solution can act as a disaster recovery device for competitors' products. This gives customers a choice to not be held captive to their primary storage suppliers," he said.

Over the last several years NetApp has tried to make their products as proprietary as possible to captivate their customers. For example, NetApp doesn't use the standard 16 drive RAID array , like other manufacturers do, they use a custom 14 drive raid array. NetApp doesn't use a standard canister, they use a proprietary sized canister. These are simple every day products that can help customers save money or lock them in. In every case NetApp looks to hold their customer in proprietary captivity.

A leopard can't change its spots, and I don't think customers should depend on NetApp to make it easy to work with their competitors, no matter how nice it sounds to the press and marketing folks. Will NetApp suddenly form an alliance with EMC to help customers? How did their alliances with Hitachi and Dell work out for customers?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Sticker Shock:

The FAS3070 starts at roughly $115,000 for a system with 1 TB of capacity and is available now. According to NetApp, its closest competitor is EMC Corp.'s CX3-80.

I think most people would agree that the closest competitor to NetApp equipment is NetApp equipment that has a transferable license, especially a 1 TB unit. We have plenty available and can easily save you 40% off the NetApp price list. Give us a call - in the USA 302.266.9408 or in Europe at 08000 121 801.

I don't know of any company that has an unlimited budget for storage anymore.

UPDATE- I got a call from an engineer that said I should point out that if this NetApp system is sold with x276 300GB drives, the 1 TB is all used up in the root volume. Even if it was sold with 14 72 GB drives it would leave only 11 drives for data or about 770 GB RAW and about 420 GB usable after right sizing. $404.00 per gig is a high price for useable storage!

Zerowait has transferable licensed 980's with a 1 TB available for about $50,000.00 and we can add a TB for about $5000.00 per TB.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Another SNW trade show is over and in the record books.

On Friday, I flew home after the SNW show my first leg was from ISM to LBT, I filed IFR and after take off I was vectored through Orlando's airspace and then handed off to the Daytona controller. Daytona sent me out over the ocean to the Jetso intersection and then north to Stary and then on to Lumberton which is the halfway point in my trip. I fuelled up in Lumberton and filed my next IFR flight plan back to Delaware. After departing LBT, I contacted FAY approach and the controller asked me if I wanted to go GPS direct to PXT (Patuxent) I said certainly, but mentioned that in the era of the Washington ADIZ it is very rare to get any direct routings any more. Except for a slight change to the Colin intersection, north of Richmond, I pretty much went GPS direct back home. It was a great flight and I had lots of time to think about the SNW show.

I was really surprised by the number of NetApp end users that came up to me and thanked me for my company's service and support, and also by the number of folks who walked up to me and asked me to send them some more information on our NetApp support services. It was apparent to me that many NetApp users are suffering from Buyer's remorse, and are looking for alternatives to NetApp's forced upgrades. EMC's folks were also interested in chatting with me, since they have a common interest in helping us displace NetApp as a service and support option where NetApp equipment is in place. The folks at 3 Par chatted with me and we spent quite a bit of time together. I have to admit that their 30,000 foot view for the technology they have was pretty interesting.

In the past I have learned that most trade show presentations are about as painful to sit through as getting a root canal, so I actively avoided any presentations no matter how interesting I was told they would be. If something interesting happened the trade press will cover it . I spent my time chatting with customers, vendors and competitors about common problems and solutions. I think that was much better usage of my time when you consider the laughter and cards exchanged and to do lists created.

After it was all over on Thursday night, Jon Toigo, Jeremy and I went to Wendy's for our celebratory dinner and laughed about the number of analysts, reporters, and marketing types that were floating around the show. I think there were more marketing folks at the show than there were end users. But only SNW knows that for sure.

Of interest to many people in the storage business :

Regulatory language proposed in California by the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) declares that on or after January 1, 2007, no person shall sell or offer for sale in California, a covered electronic device if the device is prohibited from being sold or offered for sale in the European Union. DTSC will hold a workshop on Thursday, November 9, 2006, to solicit additional input and to update stakeholders on the development of these regulations prohibiting the sale of non-RoHS compliant electronic devices in California.

Date: November 9, 2006

Time: 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM

Location: CalEPA Building

Byron Sher Auditorium

1001 "I" Street, 2nd Floor

Sacramento, California 95814

Thursday, November 02, 2006

SNW in Orlando

On Tuesday I flew from Delaware to Kissimee,FL for the SNW show. It was a perfect flight down the east coast at 8000 feet. Yesterday, I went to the show and met with a lot of folks. I was amazed to meet so many people who read this blog. I had no idea. It was great meeting you all ! Mostly the SNW show is a vendor fest, and many of these vendors are suddenly very interested in working with Zerowait. I listened to some of their pitches and was astonished at the claims I heard. I don't know whether the coming election is having an effect on the storage business. But the politicians and the marketing guys seem to stretch the truth in the same proportions. One customer was listening to one of these pitches with me, and afterwards he said that the storage industry needs an organization like www.factcheck.org to validate some of these claims. Trust but Verify!

By the way, Jon Toigo's storage revolution meeting was outstanding. Good work Jon!

PS - Adaptec - Thanks for dinner, it was great, and I really enjoyed the discussions!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Storage Network World is in Orlando next week.

The industry likes to gather there and make their boasts and put out press releases. I have been asked by quite a few of my industry peers to stop by, and I probably will because I have important business appointments nearby next week. A lot of our customers in the Southeast are interested in getting more storage value out of their NetApp infrastructures, and are looking at our service and support quotes and also transferable licensed filers.

You can be certain that the big wigs at SNW won't be talking about:
1) Getting more bang for your invested storage buck.
2) Getting a faster return on your storage ROI.
3) Affordably extending the life of your legacy storage.
4) How to save money with transferable licensed storage.

As Henry Ford said - “Competition is the keen cutting edge of business, always shaving away at costs”

But if that is what you are interested in, drop us an email and I am certain that we can get together. We always look forward to helping our customers and friends save a lot of money when negotiating with their storage vendor. In the last couple of weeks a large company in the Southeast has been using our support quotes to help them get reduced pricing out of their storage vendor very effectively. Competition will do that! Now the purchasing folks at this company are wondering why their storage manufacturer's prices were so high before we came to the table.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Storage investments
"A penny saved is a penny earned." Benjamin Franklin

Over the last few weeks there has been a steady increase in the number of inquiries we have received regarding transferable licensed filers. The current stock of filers includes all models of nearstore R100, r150 and r200 models as well as standard filers including the 980's, 960's and 940's. All these filers have transferable licenses and are ready to ship. NetApp provides software support for these filers and Zerowait provides affordable Next Business Day hardware support and installation services.

From the comments we hear from these customers, it seems that many NetApp salespeople are misinformed about transferable licensed filers, and don't know all the facts regarding them. If you are looking to save money on high reliability NetApp storage, give us a call and we will explain how it works.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Good news for HP!

It is always good to read that a customer is doing well. The folks at HP are some of the nicest and best engineers we deal with. Congratulations!
HP has taken Dell's crown for the most global PC shipments in the third quarter of 2006, Gartner has reported.

While most of the press is focusing on the executive suites, and former executive's books. The people at HP continue to do an excellent job providing technology that works for their customers.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Yesterday, I was in Maryland visiting some customers. At one location the customer wants to know how much data he can put behind a Netapp 980. He wants 30 TB useable. Officially, NetApp 980's only support 32 TB raw. And yet we have heard of 980's going over that limit. The customer has NetApp, Blue Arc and SGI storage. He noticed that his Blue Arc and SGI storage shelves look identical. Same shelves just different bezels.

Like so many of our customers this customer likes NetApp hardware and Zerowait support. NetApp hardware is reliable and easy to manage and Zerowait provides realiable and easy to work with support, and at reasonable prices. Recently we have seen a surge of NetCache customers coming to us for service and support quotes for their equipment. Same equipment, just different bezels ; )

By the way, Robert Pearson responded to a Blog posting by Jon Toigo about NetApp with some interesting comments which ended by pointing out "IMHO, pNFS won’t help much with these lofty but worthy goals, but it will help sell a bunch of NetApps boxen. Lord knows they need help with their design architecture bottleneck." Many customers are noticing this and that is why transferable licensed boxes are worth so much to savvy customers.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

"Trustworthy emphasizes the steady and honest dependability which encourages one's confidence, belief, or trust: trustworthy and accurate reports." from the definition of reliability below my thoughts.

A few weeks ago I was in Dallas meeting with one of our largest customers, and to paraphrase his comments - he said that what he likes about dealing with Zerowait was that no matter who he speaks to in our office, he is always given an honest and straighforward answer to his questions about a service policy or a parts order.

Since incorporating my company, I have strived to provide our customers with the same service and support that I expect from our business partners.Just this week our first customer was in our office about a maintenance project. Many vendors we have dealt with over the years can not provide the level of trustworthyness that we expect, and over the years most of them have withered away.

Often times at trade shows I hear salesman and marketing people discuss their compensation packages and bonus plans. I even get sent Powerpoint presentations from Vendors that we compete with that tell their sales people how to earn more income with lots of exclamation points. But I have always felt that our company, and our customers, will succeed best if we strive to provide long term value for them in their High Availability environments. Short run sales goals provide short run solutions for our customers, which end up costing them more money.

Zerowait has evolved over the last 17 years with our customers. The NetApp products & Technology we support and we specialize in was not even on the radar when I incorporated the company. And while providing outstanding service and support will never be glamourous, my staff, and I are committed to providing our customers with the best service that we can provide.

Next time you are reviewing your storage options, it might pay to review how your storage salesperson is compensated. Is he going to be a long term partner, or is he looking for the the quick payout?

WWW.dictionary.com definition of reliability below.

re li a ble /rlabəl/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[ri-lahy-uh-buhl] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
that may be relied on; dependable in achievement, accuracy, honesty, etc.: reliable information.
[Origin: 1560–70; rely + -able]

—Related forms
reliability, reliableness, noun
reliably, adverb

—Synonyms trusty, authentic, consistent. Reliable, infallible, trustworthy apply to persons, objects, ideas, or information that can be depended upon with confident certainty. Reliable suggests consistent dependability of judgment, character, performance, or result: a reliable formula, judge, car, meteorologist. Infallible suggests the complete absence of error, breakdown, or poor performance: an infallible test, system, marksman. Trustworthy emphasizes the steady and honest dependability which encourages one's confidence, belief, or trust: trustworthy and accurate reports.
—Antonyms undependable, questionable, deceitful.
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.0.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

pos i ti vi ty / p z t v ti/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[poz-i-tiv-i-tee] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
–noun, plural -ties.
1. the state or character of being positive: a positivity that accepts the world as it is.
2. something positive.
[Origin: 1650–60; positive + -ity]
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.0.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

Positive statement (1)
Yesterday, a NetApp customer sent us an email saying that NetApp does not transfer licenses. From our customer - My rep says, quote “we don’t do that” unquote.
I am positive that NetApp transfers licenses - we work with companies regularly helping them move their transferable licensed systems. Many companies, state government agencies, federal government agencies and organizations are using legally transfered systems today. Why would a NetApp salesperson misinform their customer?
Positive statement (2)
NetApp equipment is some of the most reliable storage equipment ever made, with high reliability guaranteed, it makes sense to maintain and add storage to older systems. Zerowait helps hundreds of companies save money every year with our upgrades, service and support.
I am positive that you can get more value out of your NetApp Storage if you ask Zerowait for a quote on Service, support or upgrades and compare them to NetApp.
Positive statement (3)
Zerowait's business is growing rapidly because we offer a competitive, quality service for customers with legacy NetApp equipment. Our business is growing mostly by word of mouth recommendations between NetApp users, not because of our Google ads or sales efforts. The largest companies in the world depend on Zerowait for their NetApp service and support, and many of them are NetApp partners.

Positive statement (4)
Competition is good for NetApp's customers, and it makes Zerowait have to be better than our competition all the time at what we do!

I am positive that our business will continue to grow because of our commitment to providing the highest quality customer service and support. Long term customer relationships will remain our most valuable assets for years to come.

If you are tired of hearing that you need to upgrade from your NetApp salesperson, and are looking for a quality service and support alternative, I am positive you will be happy with Zerowait - the affordable alternative for NetApp service and support!

Also - Call us today if you want special pricing on a FAS940 Cluster with NFS and CIFS with transferable licensing

Monday, October 09, 2006

Did you ever think that making a speech on economics is a lot like pissing down your leg? It seems hot to you, but it never does to anyone else. Lyndon B. Johnson

The same can be said for storage economics - According to Robin Harris :
In storage, the capacity illusion reigns supreme. We measure storage utilization by looking at capacity in gigabytes, which, as Hu points out, is the cheapest part of storage. The expensive storage component is I/O. And the expensive management component is people.

And while the main stream computer press simply recites whatever it is that the vendors are flogging this week, it takes some detective work for customers to find out how to get the most economical return for their storage investment. However, NetApp customers recognize that Zerowait provides high quality third party service and support for their legacy filers. And as we grow our European business many more customers are discovering the logic of purchasing transferable licensed filers. It does not take much effort to look at the price point of a new NetApp filer, compare it to a transferable licensed FAS980 and see that you can get a lot of storage and save a lot of money with a 980 and 336 spindles.

Storage economics - it is a term that will become more well known over the next few years.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

On Thursday and Friday I went on a few customer visits and I decided to drive. Leaving Newark,DE on Thursday morning at 5:15 AM I stopped at the Dunkin Donuts and got some coffee and a breakfast sandwich. I drove up the NJ TPKE and crossed the George Washington Bridge with hardly any traffic nightmares. I hit the Cross Bronx Expressway and ran into a small tie up. Going into CT was really no problem, and I made it to New Haven with a lot of time to spare. I had lunch with a customer and continued on up to Hartford and into the Boston suburbs for another appoinment. The calm before the traffic storm!

On Friday, I had two appoinments and left Boston around noon. I got on 95 south and ran into a traffic tie up, when it cleared I ran into a three hour mess between New Haven and the Housatonic river. I decided to spend the night with friends near Bridgeport after this nightmarish delay. Saturday morning I ran into traffic around Stamford, CT and of course on the Cross Bronx EXPY it was a mess. I got across the George Washington Bridge and ran into an hour delay at exit 8 ( Freehold, NJ) After that tie up it was clear until the 896 exit in Newark, DE .

I hit a traffic jam on every highway and in every state I went through returning home. Can you imagine if your network worked that poorly? Would you deal with a company that created havoc in every part of every transaction you made with it. Of course not! Why don't state highway administrations treat us as customers? Why do they do major road work in the middle of the day? In our company all major network changes have to occur when the office is closed or lightly staffed. I wonder when the folks in charge of roadwork will discover the concept of doing major work when it will impact business the least? Maybe they can post some detour signs?

I wonder how much it costs our economy to have the Northeast a traffic nightmare? And I know that in every region of the country I drive in I run into traffic nighmares. Does anyone in Government care? If Government can't maintain & fix the roads why are we paying high gas taxes and tolls?

Let's fix the roads in this country!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Economics explained through cows.

My cousin Clive ,who lives in England, sent me a joke which I thought applied to the storage business perfectly. I only added one section at the end . I hope you enjoy it.


You have 2 cows, and you give one to your neighbour.


You have 2 cows. The State takes both and gives you some milk.


You have 2 cows. The State takes both and sells you some milk.


You have 2 cows. The State takes both and shoots you.


You have 2 cows. The State takes both, shoots one, milks the other,
then throws the milk away...


You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies,

and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the income.


You have two cows. You sell one, and force the other to produce the
milk of four cows. Later, you hire a consultant to analyze why the cow has dropped dead.


You have two cows. You go on strike, organise a riot, and block the

roads, because you want three cows.


You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size
of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You then create a
clever cow cartoon image called Cowkimon and market it worldwide.


You have two cows. You re-engineer them so they live for 100 years,
eat once a month, and milk themselves.


You have two cows, but you don't know where they are. You decide to
have lunch.


You have two cows. You count them and learn you have five cows. You

count them again and learn you have 42 cows. You count them again and

learn you have 2 cows. You stop counting cows and open another bottle
of vodka.


You have 5000 cows. None of them belong to you. You charge the owners

for storing them.


You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim that
you have full employment, and high bovine productivity, and arrest the
newsman who reported the real situation.


You have two cows. You worship them.


You have two cows. Both are mad.


Everyone thinks you have lots of cows. You tell them that you have
none. No-one believes you, so they bomb the **** out of you and invade your
country. You still have no cows, but at least now you are part of a


You have two giraffes. The government requires you to take harmonica



You have two cows. You sell 3 of them to your publicly listed
company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank.
Then you execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so
that you get all 4 cows back, with a tax deduction for keeping 5 cows. The
milk rights of 6 cows are transferred via a Panamanian intermediary
to a Cayman Islandscompany secretly owned by the majority shareholder. He
sells the rights to all 7 cows' milk back to the listed company, and
proceeds from the sale are deferred. The annual report says that the
company owns 8 cows, with an option on one more. Meanwhile, you kill
the 2 cows because the feng shui is bad.


You have two cows. The one on the left looks very attractive.


You have two cows. Business seems pretty good. You close the office
and go for a few beers to celebrate.

Storage vendor

You purchased a new milking machine for high reliability and the expected growth of your milking operation which currently consists of two cows. The hardware vendor cancels software and hardware support for the milking machine and requires you to purchase new hardware and software. They tell you that the new software and hardware provides higher availability than the older versions did. When you install the hardware you notice that the only difference is the Bezel and the debt you have incurred. The day after your upgrade is complete the salesman stops by and tells you that the hardware has been superseded by a newer version and you need to upgrade. The salesman is driving a brand new BMW 700 series.

Monday, October 02, 2006

A purchase that makes sense.

Typcially - the news from Silly Con Valley storage companies makes little sense but this one seems to have some logic behind it. If HDS pulls it off, I think in a few years NetApp will see some serious competition.

Meanwhile, HDS is also said to be working through the due diligence process to acquire high-end network attached storage (NAS) supplier, BlueArc Inc. Neither company would confirm nor deny the rumor. A former BlueArc employee, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that there were discussions with HDS two to three years ago, but they didn't go anywhere. "The company's under new management now and it would be a logical move," he said.

But what happened to the love NetApp and HDS used to share?
Hitachi Data Systems Corp. (HDS), Santa Clara, Calif., and Network Appliance Inc. (NetApp), Sunnyvale, Calif., have penned a plan to sell enterprise NAS systems. Under terms of the agreement, HDS will offer NetApp enterprise NAS gateway devices for Hitachi Freedom Storage arrays managed by HDS HiCommand Management Framework tools.

Oh yeah, that's right , NetApp is now dancing with IBM.
Andy Monshaw, General Manager, IBM Storage Systems, states, "The IBM relationship with Network Appliance is a prime example of how two industry-leading companies, both of whom actively support open standards, can team to offer information on demand solutions.

No matter who they are dancing with today, Zerowait will support whichever legacy version of NetApp equipment you are left with for years to come.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Will Sun and ZFS take over the enterprise?
Robin Harris at Storagemojo.com has been writing about these efforts for a couple of months now, and I have to give him credit for highlighting what is going on. Enterprise Storage will commoditize, it might be ZFS that leads the way - if Sun can productize and position the product correctly. But not many companies are able to make the transition from a proprietary high margin model to a commodity low margin model. I think one of the consumer electronics companies will end up owning the market for commoditized enterprise storage in a few years time.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

No change in circumstances can repair a defect in character - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Since opening our European operations we have seen a large increase in our requests for quote for our service and support of legacy NetApp equipment. There has also been a large increase in requests for service and support of the NetCache line because NetApp has sold off that line of equipment. Zerowait is focused on helping our customers get more long term value out of their NetApp infrastructure, so it is refreshing to see the following statement by a NetApp big wig that shows NetApp is suddenly actually trying to help customers get more value out of their equipment also.

The availability of 10Gb Ethernet connectivity will benefit all of our IP-based storage solutions: NFS, CIFS, and iSCSI, said Rich Clifton, vice president and general manager of the Networked Storage business unit. The aggressive NetApp support for 10Gb Ethernet demonstrates the ongoing commitment we make to our customers to deliver powerful solutions that help them gain more value from their data infrastructure.

With a commitment like that, it shouldn't be long until NetApp provides transferable licenses to all of their customers and starts providing legacy customers with bug fixes at no charge.

Monday, September 25, 2006

"If you can't accept losing, you can't win" Vince Lombardi

Every quote we make does not turn into an order, and there are a variety of reasons for this. For a customer with legacy NetApp equipment that is looking to extend the life of his product we win the majority of the business we quote. The reason we win the business is that we understand that the customer is honestly trying to get the best return on investment on his current Network Appliance storage investment, and we can show the customer that by using our service and support he can save a substantial amount of money and maintain his High Availability equipment.

Maintaining High Availability equipment at a reasonable price allows our customers to spend their scant budget dollars on staff, and as many customers of ours recognize, a highly skilled staff can provide an organization with many more benefits than a brand new box does. No matter how polished the sales pitch is.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

All the customers I spoke with on my trip across the country told me essentially the same thing. They love our NetApp service and support. While on my cross country trip our staff in our new European office was very busy and we are very encouraged by what we are hearing from our customers and new prospective customers in Europe. The positive response and large number of requests for quotes for our Network Appliance equipment service and support in Europe has been great.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Air Race Report

Flew from San Jose into Reno on Friday. Ran into rime ice at 11000 feet and had to climb to 13000 to get out of the ice. Flew to the Mustang VOR and onto Runway 16L at Reno, 30 Knot crosswinds made the landing interesting. The races were great on Saturday, although it was unfortunate that Rare Bear and Dago Red are out this year. Strega had some sort of problem and did not finish the race on Saturday. The Thunderbirds and other aerobatic pilots put on a great show.

On Sunday we flew back to San Luis Obispo. Climibing to 13,000 feet out of Reno took some circling with my normally aspirated engine. At 13,000 feet I was only showing 16 inches of Manifold Pressure. Flying over lake Tahoe was worth the climb.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Flew into San Jose yesterday. Perfect flight and landed on runway 29 and taxied over to San Jose Jet Center. Really great folks! Rented a car and started answering my phone as the calls were non stop. A bunch of our customers are meeting us at the Reno Air races this weekend and we are looking forward to a really great time with them.

Big engines and fast planes - nothing better !

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Physical layer problems and solutions

It turned out the electrical problems were caused by a loose wire on the main bus bar. I think that is layer 1 in the OSI model. But I got the plane fixed and by about 12:30 I took off ADS for my leg to Phoenix. My friend Ken in Dallas told me that Western Texas was rather flat. It certainly is- and there are a lot of oil wells out around Midland. From Midland to Phoenix the ground starts to go up a bit and there are some very interesting mountains to see. Crossing El Paso at 8000 feet I followed the border for quite a while and then in New Mexico I approached even larger mountains which required me to climb to 11000 feet and then I had to start flying around big thunderstorms. The folks at ALB Center were great and directed me perfectly. I came into the Phoenix valley at about 9000 feet and had to descend rapidly to land at Chandler where my friend Warren picked me up . We had dinner and talked about flying, business and everything else. Today I fly to CA to visit with some more customers for the next few days.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Problem solving

On Friday I started my cross country trip from Delaware to California and then Reno for the Air races. On Friday night I flew IFR to NC21 and stayed with some old friends of mine. A perfectly delightful flight with no problems. On Saturday morning, I left for the second leg from the Charlotte area to Dallas where I was going to have dinner with some friends. About 20 miles east of Texarkana I started to have some electrical problems with my radios. I called Memphis Center and told them of my problems and they gave me a vector to Texarkana - Memphis Center was great while I worked through my problems and figured out that my alternator had given up. I turned off all non vital instruments and told Memphis center that I did not need to declare an emergency and could continue on to ADS ( Addison TX) but I had to continue as a VFR flight.

I landed in Dallas and one of my friends picked me up and took me to my hotel to clean up and get ready for dinner. At dinner last night I went through the procedure I went through as I worked through my problems. It did not seem unusual to me. Del Frisco's was great again!

This morning at breakfast with my buddies they wanted me to go over again the procedures I went through while flying my plane with the electrical problems. To the non pilots it was very surprising the way I followed procedures and worked with Memphis approach to solve my problem while flying. But that is the reason for training and procedures, perhaps 20 years ago before I had my pilot's license it would have surprised me too.

Procedure and training can't cover every eventuality, but it helped me a lot in my little adventure last night, and it is why we have so many written operational procedures at Zerowait.

This morning I called the mechanics back in Delaware and we did some more trouble shooting and I am going to have to repair my alternator. Oh well . Its always something. But Dallas is a great place to be stranded for an extra day!

Friday, September 08, 2006

I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is to try to please everyone - Bill Cosby

The same could be said for storage and bloat ware software, the more you try to do, the more spaghetti code you pack into your once small secure kernel creating more places your secure kernel can be breached or just be broken. With Enterprise storage you just can't keep it simple and please everyone.

But at least one NetApp engineer at a German show thinks customer education is the key to security and will help them avoid ripping out infrastructure. As most veteran NetApp customers know there are some issues, especially with the CIFS code.
"In addition to building security into all areas of its product portfolio, NetApp has rolled out a variety of educational tools to help customers better understand their data security risks and the ways they can tune their IT infrastructure to mitigate those risks without having to rip and replace or make unrealistic investments," said Mike Walters, consultant systems engineer at NetApp."

How much education is required on your storage subsytems for your data to be secure? Is your storage vendor's software secure? How can you tell?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Verizon - Thank you judge Green

I called Verizon today, because my phones at our house have been not working for a few days. I figured that they would come fix the phone line in a day or so. But they can't fix the phones for at least a week I was told. I inquired as to why does it take so long for a phone repairman to show up. I was told there are lots of problems because it has been raining. I told the young lady on the phone at Verizon's repair center that yesterday was sunny and mild and my phones did not work.

She asked if I had checked the lines at the box, I assured her that I had and the problems are on their side not ours.

I can't imagine how Verizon would compete in a truly competitive marketplace. ATT before Judge Green broke it up was responsive and expensive. Now we have companies that are unreliable and cheaper. Unlike the old days of ATT the phone company is not a natural monoploy because of the change in technology. However, technology has not changed the customer's expectation of service. I still expect ATT service, but unfortunately we are left with a much lower level of service.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Jon Toigo pointed me to an interesting article today in the San Jose Paper. You can read his previous blog here on the subject or go to the Newspaper article.

Jon has long thought that the Computer storage business is not quite ethical, but is the software business any more ethical? They all sell vaporware and use sales puffery.

As usual Jon was way ahead of the Main Stream Computer press, consumers are lucky to have him on their side!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Delaware in in position to attract Data Centers

Delaware is well positioned to capitalize on banks’ demand for data security and data storage technology workers, according to a new study.

Princeton, N.J.-based The Boyd Co., which advises banks and other financial service firms on where to locate offices and other facilities, found that Delaware and Wilmington, the state’s largest city, are in a good position to capitalize on the demand. And data security/data storage is one of the few niches within financial services that’s experiencing significant job growth, said John Boyd Jr.

But the First State is also facing competition for these high-paying data banking jobs from small, low-cost cities in the West and the South, such as Sioux Falls, S.D. and Winston-Salem, N.C.

There are about 41,000 people nationwide now working in financial services data security/storage, and that number is expected to grow by 19 percent annually over the next five years, according the firm’s projections. Jobs in the field generally pay between $50,000 and $100,000, according to the firm’s study.

If major banks decide to locate their data security/storage centers in Delaware, it could ultimately mean the addition of several hundred jobs here, Boyd estimated.

See complete coverage in Friday’s News Journal and online at www.delawareonline.com. Contact Ted Griffith at 324-2880 or tgriffith@delawareonline.com.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Zerowait Opens EMEA Office to Provide Affordable Service, Support & Upgrades to NetApp® Customers in the UK and Europe.

Newark, DE, USA / Manchester, UK—August 29, 2006 –Zerowait Corporation, the recognized leader for independent support of Network Appliance (NetApp) equipment, announces the opening of their European Headquarters. Offering comprehensive hardware support for enterprises and e-commerce companies who need to manage their critical data at a reasonable cost, Zerowait is now positioned to provide enhanced engineering and technical support for NetApp infrastructures throughout EMEA with its expanded sales presence and forward distribution depot.

A Partner You Can Trust

Steve Fishwick, General Manager of Zerowait EMEA comments, “Zerowait has been earning the trust of their customers for over 15 years. Selected by Network Appliance as one of their first Registered Service Providers (RSP), Zerowait’s extensive experience in load balancing, caching and network attached storage provides the foundation for outstanding third party support programmes. Zerowait helps customers maximize their return on investment (ROI) for their Network Appliance storage equipment, by providing affordable high availability support solutions, parts and engineering support.

“Our new European office provides European clients a simple way to reduce the skyrocketing costs that Network Appliance charges for upgrades and hardware support,” concludes Fishwick.

“Zerowait was established in 1989, in Newark, Delaware USA. Zerowait is clearly the largest independent service and support organization focusing on Network Appliance Corporation’s equipment. Several hundred NetApp customers around the world depend on Zerowait to provide them with an affordable alternative for NetApp service, support and upgrades. Opening our European office and parts depot permits us to provide our EMEA customers the same high availability service levels that our customers in North America receive,” said the President of Zerowait, Mike Linett.

If you are looking for a responsive company that will put your requirements first, contact Zerowait by calling 08000 121 801 in Europe or 302 266 9408 in North America. Email us at info@zerowait.com for a competitive quote today!

Zerowait is a third party provider of parts, services, and support for Network Appliance equipment. Zerowait is not a partner of, nor affiliated with, Network Appliance Corporation.

Zerowait USA – 18 Haines Street, Newark, DE 19711. Ph 302.266.9408 http://www.zerowait.com/

Zerowait UK 14-16 Agecroft Rd. Manchester, M27 8UW Ph 08000.121.801 http://www.zerowait.co.uk/

Monday, August 28, 2006

If you are curious about our reputation, check out our satisfied customer list !

A few times a week we get asked by prospective customers for references on our service and support. We gladly send references to people who request them, because we are confident that our customers are extremely satisfied with our independent NetApp service and support. Now that we are opening in Europe we are getting questions about our service & support from many new customers. Zerowait provides service and support to some of NetApp biggest international customers, so providing international references is not a problem either. Sometimes prospective customers ask us for geographic references and sometimes they ask for industry specific references. Either way prospective customers quickly turn into customers after talking with our satisfied customers.

A few months ago we had a get together with a bunch of customers in Texas, Our customers talked candidly about their problems and how Zerowait has solved them. They discussed how Zerowait solved their technical problems and their budgetary problems caused by NetApp's overly priced support solutions. Next month we are planning a get together with some of our customers in Nevada. Communicating candidly with our customers is the most important thing we do. And the most important component of communication has been to carefully listen to our customers and provide them the solutions they are looking for at a price they can afford.

Friday, August 25, 2006

"Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts." Edward R. Murrow

Regular readers of this blog will know that for about a year we have been working on setting up our
office and service depot in Europe. After many months of effort the office will open next week. Some of our European customers have already been speaking to our staff there, and many more of them will soon be speaking to them in the next few months.

Starting in September we will be visiting Europe more often to introduce the local staff to our customers there. After many months of training, programming and organizing we are ready, and I am certain that our European customers will receive the same service levels that our North American customers receive.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

"We've been NetApped!"

That is what our customer said, and it was not a compliment from the tone of his voice. As I found out more I learned that their NetApp salesman had shown him numbers that proved that buying new NetApp equipment was cheaper then buying continuing service and support from NetApp. An associate in another division of his company had told him to contact us, and he was rather upset that he did not ask us for a Zerowait support quote prior to buying his new NetApp hardware. After learning what his company paid for their NetApp hardware I joked around and asked what kind of car the sales guy purchased with his commission. After a few minutes of laughing we agreed that NetApp's proprietary solutions carry hefty commissions!

When I have conversation like this I always think back to a conversation I had with a large Delaware based company's CIO . He told me that he has to always look at the cost of new technology and compare it to how many people's work it will save. He would rather have talented people on staff, and if he could shave dollars from his hardware costs he could keep his staff. There was only so much budget available and people or hardware was the decision he had to make. By purchasing support from Zerowait his company was able to affordably maintain his high availability systems without destroying his highly respected engineering staff.

NetApp has great technology, and Zerowait can help you support, maintain & upgrade your NetApp equipment for a reasonable cost.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Another Early Adopter gets rid of their NetApp .

August 17, 2006 -- NASA's Solar Data Analysis Center is changing out its network attached storage (NAS) from Network Appliance Inc. for what it described as a more agile set of arrays from Pillar Data Systems Inc. to make it easier for the organization to study the sun.

If only that this NASA division had called us, we could have helped them grow their NetApp Storage, shrunk their footprint, and improved their performance without breaking their budget. And maybe saved the taxpayers some money!

Pillar's sales force seems to be doing the missionary sales work and chasing after the early adopters of storage technologies. NetApp uncovered a market need in the mid 1990's, but are they nimble enough to recognize, implement and execute on a plan to fight this hungry and well financed newcomer to the marketplace? Perhaps their StoreVault product is a distraction from their main business, have they lost focus already? But NetApp does not seem to be addressing Pillar directly yet. Oracle is a big NetApp customer but there are direct ties between Oracle and Pillar.

Recognizing that Zerowait has a rapidly growing North American and EMEA customer base some NetApp competitors have approached us to help them market their products recently. We have seen some really interesting and innovative technologies that will reduce customers overall cost of storage in the past couple of months. But we have not seen a value proposition yet that approaches what we can provide our customers yet on maintaining, upgrading and providing service and support for their NetApp equipment.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Follow the Options

Nearly 100 years ago Teddy Roosevelt said "A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education he may steal the whole railroad."

In the Enron scandal there were a bunch of well educated guys who were able to play games with the books and the rules of accounting. And it is worth watching this film clip to get a sense of that scandal The smartest guys in the room film clip

The current SEC Options investigation is stirring up Silicon Valley, but these types of things unfold at their own pace in the media, based on other news events. Putting the pieces and connections together from the media reports makes it very hard to follow or make sense of for me. How big will the expanding SEC Options investigation get? Jon Toigo has some thoughts.
"Follow the money," was the memorable quote from All the President's Men. Deep Throat advised Bob Woodward that the key to understanding the Watergate mystery was the money.

Dave Hitz of NetApp considers Lock In to be a natural state of things with a fast evolving technology.
The root cause of vendor lock-in is lack of standards and interoperability. Standards don't tend to emerge when innovation is fast. And innovation tends to be fast whenever customers have unsolved problems that make them unhappy. In the storage industry today, I see unhappy customers driving lots of innovation that makes it hard for standards to keep up. I predict that this cycle of unhappiness and innovation will continue for a while, because the problem keeps getting harder: installed storage capacity keeps doubling, and data keeps getting more business critical.

By the way, Hal Varian said in 1998 that lock in is going to get more prevalent. So Dave is not breaking any new ground here. I wonder if Dave knows Hal Varian?
Whether you supply information technology, or merely use it, you will benefit from understanding, classifying and measuring switching costs. The "friction-free" economy is a fiction; look for more lock-in, not less, as the information age progresses.

What is interesting is that in some respects they both miss an important component of lock in - Customers want value for their investment.
That is why Zerowait keeps adding customers for our NetApp Service, parts, upgrades and support business. Zerowait provides extraordinary value to the customer that their high priced OEM will not provide - (I get to toot my horn in my blog !). Another place where you can see customers striving to get better value out of their Storage investment is at the Toasters mailing list (toasters.mathworks.com) of NetApp users. There you will find all sorts of tricks on how to get more value out of your NetApp storage investment.

Are you fighting the vendors' need to lock you in, or are you working toward creating an open and free market for storage equipment? Dave Hitz is a great guy, but he is a big shareholder of a company that profits on locking in customers to his equipment. Vendor Lock In is also a root cause of Vendor Myopia. Just look at that other fast growing company from Sillycon valley - SGI. They missed an obvious seismic change in the marketplace because they considered their customers locked in. In many ways, Sun's troubles arealso because they considered Linux a toy that no Fortune 1000 company would use. Both SGI and Sun learned that Innovation can cause havoc to a Myopic business plan.

A simple way to fight NetApp lock in on price is to get quotes on the same equipment from IBM. Off The Record Research says that in Europe Customers are getting bids from both IBM and NetApp . Or give us a call and we will explain how to negotiate better prices and terms from NetApp.

Innovators recognize that Vendor Lock In is a cancer that kills innovation.

As Deep Throat said " Follow the Money"

Monday, August 14, 2006

NetApp VP says NetApp is working to reduce storage costs.

Are they reducing their costs of hardware support? No
Are they extending the life of your legacy equipment ? No

They are going to sell another piece of hardware & software to reduce your costs!

"This announcement is about NetApp providing customers with a holistic solution to help them gain control over escalating costs and risks associated with unstructured data," said Patrick Rogers, vice president of Products and Alliances at Network Appliance. "With this software introduction, we are extending our portfolio of solutions to help customers reduce the amount of time normally required to manage compliance-related storage management tasks and tiered storage migration."

At Zerowait we work on reducing your storage costs by lowering your costs for NetApp storage support and maintenance. And as we get more and more customers our support prices are reduced further. Because as we grow our inventory, our cost for support goes down and we pass that savings on to you. If you are looking to extend the life of your NetApp storage or affordably add storage to your infrastructure give us a call, you will be glad you did.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Traveling home from San Francisco today!

It has been a productive week in the bay area, we saw 12 clients and caught up with old friends at the brewery in Burlingame. I have to leave in a few minutes to stand on long lines at SFO airport before I get on my flight home. It looks like a lot of our customers will be meeting us at the Reno Air Races this year. If you are interested in Big Engines and fast planes you should check out www.airrace.org.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The main stream computer magazines are asking the same questions we have raised in this blog.

The NetApp StoreVault offering is the same beast. Sure, you can get a 1 TB unit that does snapshots for under $5K, but looking closely, you see that adding RAID and a hot spare to the baseline box leaves you with something less than 250 GB of capacity. In my opinion, and that of others, the box has limited capacity, limited auditability, limited manageability, limited support and apparently no investment protection. Is this really what SMB/SME's want?

But as you know even enterprise sized accounts are looking at costs today. A couple of days ago a NetApp customer sent us a quote they had received from their vendor for some DS14 storage shelves with 144 GB drives. The quote was for over $29,000.00 for 2 TB of Storage! That is a mighty big markup, even for a company from SillyCon Valley! The quote was for 7 shelves and came out over $200,000.00 . The customer asked what we would charge and it turned out to be less than 50% of the price, a lot less.

Enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

NetApp's Cosmic Failures

A regular reader who recognizes that our team is very savvy about NetApp called me and asked if I knew about NetApp's Cosmic Failures. I thought he meant Cosmic Features. But as I learned, he meant failures. He said that he had been 'Netapped' recently and was really tired of their sales puffery and marketing hyperbole, his terms were much more colorful. I listened to his story and asked him if he could send me a link or something that referenced this 'Cosmic Failure' thing . He explained to me that he could, but I could just search the Searchstorage site and find the reference.

Here is the link to the article and the paragraph that is so interesting .

Contacting NetApp about the problem, Campbell discovered that the company has a category of failures it refers to internally as "cosmic failures," which are problems that it can't, or won't, fix. The failover detection fault the Salk Institute experienced was deemed a "cosmic failure," and Campbell never heard from NetApp on the issue again.

Perhaps some of our readers , or some members of the toasters.mathworks.com group can provide us more detail on what these cosmic failures are and what causes them. I am certain that our readers would all appreciate the list of 'NetApp Cosmic Failures' and the workarounds that there are for them.

"The reason truth is so much stranger than fiction is that there is no requirement for it to be consistent" Mark Twain

You just can't make this stuff up!