Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Thanks to you our Business continues to grow.

We moved into our building on Haines Street in Newark, DE 8 years ago and it looks like we are outgrowing the building now. As we need more office space and warehouse space. We have been looking around town for another building recently, but finding a building that has the combination of power requirements, connectivity, loading docks and convenience to the downtown area is proving difficult. As Newark is a University town there is the added problem that there is always a shortage of office space and parking.

The upside of being in Newark is that it is a vibrant place with lots of places for food and a beer. And of course being from the area, we know a lot of folks in town. And that is nice.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Over the weekend we had to work some overtime to meet the shipping requirements of one of the midwestern states IT departments. They required a F840 and some storage shelves for a major storage upgrade. We will be shipping the equipment out today. Many state agencies have figured out that purchasing transferable licensed NetApp equipment is a great way to get high performance while saving the taxpayer's money.

Currently, Zerowait has F840, FAS940, F880 and many other transferable licensed filers in stock and ready to be configured for your requirements.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Our Backups are Failing - Shoot the Messenger
- hardware and software vendor response - CYA

On Thursday afternoon I received an email requesting my presence on a conference call from a company with a back up issue. I had not heard of the company before, and I went to our engineering folks and asked if they had spoken to them. They were in the dark as much as I was. At 6:00 PM I called into the conference call and announced who I was and then just started listening. After a few minutes an engineer started reviewing his back up problem. He apologized for his accent and he outlined his infrastructure which includes a Brocade switch, NetApp R200, Veritas back up and some Linux boxes. After a few minutes the NetApp SE called in and introduced himself. And the engineer asked him some questions. It seems that Symantec and NetApp will not provide a clear certain answer as to whether his solution will work. The NetApp Engineer kept asking for the case number and the ticket number, but would make no promises as to whether he could solve their problem. His suggestion was that the customer purchase snapdrive to simplify their SAN - because no one understands SANS. The Symantec guy said that he did not have the authority to certify the solution and the engineer was saying that after 8 months he still did not have a working backup solution and their deadline was two weeks away. They wanted an engineer from NetApp on site next week to solve their problems.

The Symantec guy and the NetApp guy went quiet. So I figured it was my turn to speak. I mentioned that there was a lot of corporate CYA going on in this conference call and the issue had to be among the switch packet size, R200 drive incompatibilities, or firmware problems with their backup software. The NetApp SE wanted to know who I was. So I told them I was with Zerowait - the largest independent third party NetApp support organization. A lot of folks started asking questions and wanted to know how I got invited to the conference call so I told them which attendee I got the email from.

Boy things got interesting then, they very impolitely told me to get off their conference call. I guess Shoot the messenger was their solution. It is a pity too. I am pretty certain we could solve their problem. It sounded like a problem we ran into which was eerily similar recently, and buying more NetApp software is not going to solve the problem.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Recently, I was visiting a NetApp customer with over 50 F760's which they would like us to support. As NetApp cancels their support options for their customers with the F760 model of equipment we are expanding our service and support programs for these customers. The F760 is probably the most reliable equipment that NetApp ever made. And with proper maintenance it will last for many years more.

Please keep Zerowait in mind if you are looking for affordable service and supprot for your NetApp 700 seriesa and 800 series filers.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

NetApp finally Publishes Verifiable results!
Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with anything technical or related to their Filers

Of course their test data is still held hostage and unverifiable.
My trip to Dallas

During my trip to Dallas I visited with a few customers and business associates. Ken Barth at Tek Tools suggested that I take my customers to dinner at Del Friscos for dinner, Wow! The food was fantastic, and the conversation lasted about three hours about data back ups, Zerowait service and support, parents, children, and Sarbanes Oxley - including the political comedy of our elected officials in Washington DC.

Tuesday morning Ken Barth took me to Breakfast at the Mecca on Harry Hines. We chatted for about an hour about our companies and our growth strategies. Ken is one of the smartest guys I know, and we have many common customers.

My meetings went very well in Dallas and it looks like we will be picking up quite a number of NetApp 700 series filers for our affordable hardware support services.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Controversy, crap and confusion - Alan Simpson

I was listening to an interview with Alan Simpson this weekend , and this was his quote about the Washington scene. What struck me is how similar it is to the bunk that we hear on a regular basis in the storage industry. The storage press for the most part, just rehashes corporate press releases, and this causes nothing but distrust within the end user base. Jon Toigo, seems to much or the trade press as a controversial guy, but he is the only member of the industry press that I know who actually seems to dig down and check out what the corporate spin marketers say.

I have to go to Dallas this week to talk to a client that has dug down, and read some of Jon's articles on the lack of verifiable performance figures within the industry. The client asked me to visit their offices and put on an executive presentation for them to about our legacy service and support services, and in particular to compare the performance of the NetApp F700 series and the NetApp F800 series filers. This client has FAS3000 series filers and legacy filers and has seen that our whitepaper correlates with their findings. Jon Toigo has been waiting for about 6 months for NetApp to provide him the basis for their performance figures, and many customers are watching this story, and noticing that NetApp is not forthcoming with their performance figures.

Friday, February 17, 2006

During the snow storm I had to use my 1948 Willy's to go down my driveway. My Willy's worked perfectly and it reminded me that appropriate technology never goes out of style. The same is true for your legacy NetApp filers. NetApp and Willy's don't make replacement parts for their older models, but replacement parts are available from specialty vendors. Zerowait specializes in providing parts, service and support for NetApp's legacy filers. If you are satisfied with your older equipment and it satisfies your needs, why upgrade?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

I flew Southwest Airlines to Tampa this week on Sunday. As you may know Southwest is a big NetApp customer. And on Sunday they were having trouble getting planes in and out of the Mid Atlantic States. As I was flying from BWI, the flight I was on was in the middle of their weather related scheduling problems.

Through the afternoon I checked their flight status online and their website kept saying the flight was going to depart about 17 minutes late. When I got through the TSA screening I checked again and the status was still delayed 17 minutes. Our proposed departure time came and went and there was no change on line about the departure time of the flight. Eventually, an anouncement was made that the aircraft had not left Manchester, NH yet and once it did- it would be about 45 minutes until it was at the Gate at BWI. The flight departed about 90 minutes late, and got us into Tampa about 11:30 at night.

Southwest Airlines uses NetApp filers, and through the snow storm they worked fine! I don't think their usage had much of an affect on the flight schedules, but maybe some NetApp marketing person could spin it and put out a press release about how NetApp saved the day for Southwest.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Tampa Clearwater & home
I have been in Florida the last couple of days attending a conference and then visiting customers and also I had lunch with the Jon Toigo and his staff. It has been a rewarding couple of days. During the conference I was able to have lunch with Jeff Klein and we chatted at length about the end user bill of rights. Jeff feels that customers need to be more aggressive in asking for their transferable licenses. He has some really good ideas and I will put up a link soon

Friday, February 10, 2006

The future of storage requires a lot of parts from the past, without them your data could be lost.

Everyone likes to talk about what the future of storage is going to be like, but very few of the reporters and pundits ever talk about the reality that the future requires warehousing a substantial amount of parts from the past for service, support and parts replacement.

Sometimes interesting things happen when big storage companies don't take into account the parts availability issues. An interesting aspect of this is the expected end of life of the 5400 RPM drives that NetApp uses in their R200's. The drive manufacturer is going to replace the drive with a 7200 RPM drive. Our understanding is that NetApp's Ontap OS uses the RPM of drives to determine drive compatibility within their raid groups on the R200 . This could cause a problem for NetApp's customers who are replacing drives with faster drives. Unrecognized drives can cause a raid failure.

Is NetApp working on a workaround or an update for Ontap to handle this problem? Is NetApp informing their customers of the potential availability problem? Would you want your most important data on a system with a potential problem like this? The drive manufacturer must have told NetApp about their plans to supersede their 5400 RPM drives long ago, when will NetApp tell its customers? When will they release a bug fix?

Zerowait provides an affordable alternative for parts, service and support of NetApp filers.

$$ By the way, give us a call if you have some NetApp F840's you are looking to trade in! $$

Thursday, February 09, 2006

There are two kinds of statistics, the kind you look up and the kind you make up - Rex Stout

NetApp is at it again, I wonder where we can find the verification to this 50% savings they are talking about?

Krish Padmanabhan, general manager of NetApp's heterogeneous data-protection business unit, said the VTL600 and VTL1200 come with self-tuning to balance workloads and tape smart sizing features for a 50 percent savings in physical tape versus other VTLs.

Averages don't always reveal the most telling realities. You know, Shaquille O'Neal and I have an average height of 6 feet. - U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich ( He is 4' 10" tall? whereas US basketball star Shaquille O’Neal is 7’1” tall! )

$$ By the way, give us a call if you have some NetApp F840's you are looking to trade in! $$

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


This week I got a call and an email from some folks that are thinking of taking out their NetApp R200's and NetApp FAS3050's to replace them with IBM NAS5500's . I mentioned to the customer that the NAS5500 is essentially the same unit that the NetApp equipment is, so I did not understand his motivation. I explained that NetApp's Executives and IBM's Executives were now best buddies and IBM was selling NetApp equipment and support services, so it really does not make any sense to trade in his NetApp equipment for rebadged NetApp equipment. I could not make any sense of this at all.

So I asked a buddy of mine how this deal could make any sense to NetApp, his answer was quite simple. NetApp gets to sell twice the equipment, so what do they care! And IBM's sells equipment also! In his view it is good for the sales force, good for the stockholders and good for Zerowait also, since we will be getting a bunch of almost new equipment. Okay then, I hope this customer remembered to write 'Transferable licenses required' on his original PO to NetApp!

This type of arrangement is destined to fail in the High Tech marketplace, as the two sales forces will begin to compete among themselves. However, as a consumer electronics marketing ploy it makes lots of sense. Rebadge the product to get into different market niches. Imagine spending several hundred thousand dollars for a piece of equipment that is sold just like a DVD player. Perhaps NetApp views IBM sales as incremental?

Perhaps NetGear and Zetera should watch out as NetApp enters the consumers electonics & storage arena. When will Circuit City and Best Buys be advertising NetApp at a store near you?

$$ By the way, give us a call if you have some NetApp F840's you are looking to trade in! $$

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him - David Brinkley

Over the last week we sold several NetApp F840's and F820's. Some of these have had transferable licenses. We have also sent out quite a few DS14 shelves with 72GB drives and 144GB drives. Additionally, we installed an NetApp R100 and are expecting to be installing several more licensed filers in the next few weeks. The outlook for our systems and parts sales is excellent for 2006.

We have also picked up an astonishing number of NetApp service and hardware support contracts in the last few weeks. As I have said in the past, the more we sell the more we seem to need to inventory. And this is for two reasons, first we take our commitment to our support customers very seriously, so we stock an enormous amount of NetApp spares. Second, the more we sell the more folks learn about us, and so our stocking levels need to increase to support our growing customer base.

We are now working on building up our stocking levels of NetApp FAS940, NetApp FAS960 and NetApp R150 parts. Depending on your Zip Code may now be able to supply you from our 4 hour parts depots.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

I have long said that there are more leaks in Washington than in Anheuser- Busch's biggest men's room - Barry Goldwater

Jon Toigo is working on fixing the security leaks in commercial software. I think he is on to something here, and his blog is worth a read on the subject.

Whether you agree with him or not, software security is a big problem and one which needs to be addressed, Senator Goldwater tried to stop congressional leaks 20 years ago, and got nowhere. I hope Jon has better luck with the software vendors.

Friday, February 03, 2006

We want our customers to say that is a hell of a product, not that is a hell of an ad - Leo Burnett

Our Zerowait High Availability Exception Reporter is starting to get some very good press. Our friend Jon Toigo, who helped us define the product in its early stages had the following to say in his ESJ article.

Also worthy of mention is Zerowait. Lately a purveyor of used Network Appliance Filers and a provider of service and support for NetApp customers, CEO Mike Linett and company have started looking into the realm of storage management at the prompting of some of their customers. If you use a lot of Network Appliance gear, check out http://www.zpiphany.com for a sample of Zerowait’s new product, called Zpiphany. It will review your Filer (installation) configuration, tell how efficient your storage is in a simple pie chart, compare your storage efficiency to their sample population of hundreds of filers, and interpret your weekly logs to provide simple-to-follow solutions to your filers' error messages from their library of solutions. Zpiphany is provided as part of the company's NetApp Service and support contracts, or available at less than $5.00 a day to customers who want to use it to maximize their NetApp storage infrastructure, no matter who provides the hardware support or how much storage is attached to the Filer.

I like the Zpiphany model a lot and hope that it will be expanded to include other brands of storage products from other vendors—especially those who seek to conceal allocation and utilization data from the “prying eyes” of their own customers. Linett is open to all offers, should any vendors want to assist their customers with this kind of concise reporting service.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Imelda Factor in Storage - Spending money like Imelda Marcos in a shoe store.

Let me paint a picture for you - Imagine spending several hundred thousand dollars for a NetApp 3050 Cluster with ATA drives that is only doing 3 OPS. Sitting next to it is an 12 TB R100 with 2 TB of data on it doing 100 OPS. Nearby is a F840 Cluster with 3 TB doing 300 OPS, and next to is a NetApp F820 Cluster with 3 TB doing 200 OPS.

Considering the number of OPS and the amount of storage on these units why would this customer purchase the 3050 cluster? I call this the Imelda Factor in storage purchases , when a sales person convinces a customer that they absolutely need the newest piece of equipment, even if it does not meet the needs or requirements of the application. A persuasive sales person can paint a very nice picture, but that picture is not going to solve a real problem, no matter how good it looks, or how much you spend.

Sometimes it pays to get an outside opinion from a company not affiliated with a storage vendor. It might save your company several hundred thousands of dollars.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

One of the most feared expressions in modern times is " The computer is down" - Norman Augustine

A NetApp hardware support customer called us earlier this week from a well known laboratory. They love their NetApp filer and are locked into NetApp's technology. They can't afford to upgrade and they can't afford the $40,000.00 for yearly support that NetApp is quoting them for their F840. They heard about us through the grapevine and wanted to know whether we could meet their budget requirements and support their filer. "Of course we can", I told them.

It looks like we have picked up another customer for our NetApp third party support. This customer was really impressed with our value added services which includes our High Availability Exception Reporter.

If you are interested in seeing how your NetApp filer compares to others in our sample population, give us a call and we will tell you how to get a sample of the Exception reporter for your filer.