Thursday, July 27, 2006

"Man is the only animal that blushes - or needs to." Mark Twain
More Trouble for Brocade

NEW YORK, July 20 (Reuters) - Workers at technology company Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (BRCD.O: Quote, Profile, Research) altered hiring records and employed people on an ad-hoc, part-time basis in order to boost the value of stock options, the Wall Street Journal reported in its Thursday edition, citing former employees of the company.

I wonder how much of the panel's participants discussion was about options grants and the effects on the future of the industry when the event below took place a few years ago?

June 11, 2001
Storage Leaders to Speak On the Future of Industry At Churchill Club Event

By Network Storage Forum Staff

Storage experts from EMC, Network Appliance, SNAP Appliances, Brocade, and IBM will participate in a forum called Network Storage: The New Core of the Digital Economy this Thursday at the Hyatt Rickeys in Palo Alto, California. The Churchill Club of Silicon Valley is presenting the event.

Panelists will discuss recent trends and the challenges that lay ahead for the storage industry as an increasing number of players compete for market share.

Panelists include Don Swatik, Vice President of Global Alliances, EMC; Dan Warmenhoven, CEO, Network Appliance; Jim Schraith, Chairman and CEO, Snap Appliances, Inc. (A Quantum Corporation); Greg Reyes, Chairman and CEO, Brocade Communications Systems, Inc.; and Linda Sanford, Executive and Senior Vice President, IBM Storage Systems Group. The panel moderator is Eric Pfeiffer, Features Editor, Forbes ASAP.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I'm going to take up your generous offer today. I realize that much of your audience may be NetApp customers, however they could benefit from the two resources that I'd like to share below. We're offering this to bloggers before anyone else.
Check out our Public HDS Storage Forums --it's intended to be a resource for customers to connect with others customers and build a useful repository of valuable product knowledge. Just to kick things off, good folks from our product teams have populated it with some frequently asked questions and answers. We want this to be a customer resource so we'll keep the marketing to a minimum.

As the forum evolves to a life of it's own, we'll continue to watch and may answer a difficult question or two --we'll work hard to keep any undesirable content out.

If you're seeking other forums for other storage vendors and organizations, check out the Data Storage Wiki --an update list is being formed there.

Secondly, I wanted to share our Data Storage Feedreader --which can save everyone a lot of time by viewing all the feeds from one page!

We're using Bloglines, a free tool to monitor the data storage conversation (I'm amazed how fast it's growing) and will do our best to keep up --you can even export the OPML (the aggregated feed) to use in your own feedreader.

Hopefully, this can save you time as we're pulling most of the feeds from the blogger page on the wiki as they get uploaded (bear with us as we try to keep it updated).

Since I share this same feedreader internally, I intentionally
put many of the HDS feeds near the top. Click on the left nav to see different views of the feeds, the top one is an aggregate summary.

Feel free to share this email with others publicly at anytime, of course we'll love to hear your feedback for these tools and any product feedback from your blog or the forums (or my email below) --we're listening.

Jeremiah Owyang
Manager, Online Community Marketing
Hitachi Data Systems

Sunday, July 23, 2006

But the time we've made it, we've had it.... Malcolm Forbes

Success - Now watch as your market share declines!

In the late 1990's NetApp's NAS technology was an education sale. Zerowait's employees worked very hard to teach our customers the value of NAS technology. It was a new view on storage and there was demonstrable value to NetApp's solution. As the enterprise market accepted the solution NetApp's stock price soared. But now the technology has commoditized, and many people expect that NetApp's proprietary and expensive solutions will start to see a tremendous amount of competition for their market share. Just as Sun has taken a beating from Open Source, now the NAS companies are about to see the coming of open source into the enterprise. In the space of the next 24 to 36 months we can expect to see projects like start creeping into the enterprise space. As soon as they get their snapshot like technology figured out, the value of proprietary NAS goes out the door, except for the service and support value. The premium price paid to the Proprietary NAS Vendors, will be eroded quickly by these projects.

It seems that Robin Harris, Jon Toigo, and I are not the only ones keeping an eye on these developments in open source NAS projects. If you are interested in real developments in NAS storage you should read this article from the storage forum.

How are NetApp and EMC going to compete against a price point of free in three years? Brand value and marketing can only can take you so far, just ask the Oldsmobile dealers.

Friday, July 21, 2006

A small problem at a vendor, can cause a big headache for NAS and SAN customers.

When a critical part of your data infrastructure is broken and your customers are unable to get their crucial data, your business can suffer lost sales and lowered revenues. And as a System Administrator you may lose your job! Which is why SA's listen to the recommendations of their vendors' Technical Engineers so closely when making architecture decisions. When a critical part is made by a vendor where former executives are accused of fraud, you may have to start considering how to rebuild and architect your storage infrastructure. Network Appliance has a long and fruitful relationship with Brocade, and many of our customers are wedded to the Brocade switches they have. But what will happen if Brocade collapses in the next 24 months? Who will support the hardware, software and firmware on these switches? What are your alternatives as a user if a critical component is no longer supported.

These are questions to think about, we all hope that Brocade overcomes its problems. Your vendor's Executive decisions can have long term consequences for your critical storage infrastructure. In a highly integrated global economy a small disruption at a switch manufacturer may impact all of us.

Just something to think about.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Highly Valued storage on a commodity storage platform?

The other day I saw an email on The Toasters mailing list of NetApp users regarding the certification by Oracle of StoreVault - the new SMB aimed product by NetApp. I have not been in very many SMB business that are running Oracle, but I began thinking about the thought process that would allow a small business to spend big bucks on their Oracle implementation and then skimp on the hardware it runs on. It would seem that the SMB company that values its data so much would use high end hardware, not low end hardware. Perhaps NetApp's high end units will suffer shrinking their sales volume if the low end box can be Oracle certified, and can deliver the performance, reliability and Snap Mirror that high end customers require.

Below is the email that got me thinking about all of this. Email me your thoughts.
Re: StoreVault 500
From: Tim XXXX(
Date: Mon Jul 17 2006 - 14:14:32 EDT
To answer your question, the S500 is not yet Oracle certified but NetApp is
working on this.
On 7/16/06, Eric XXXXX wrote:
good morning,
Thank you for this information,
do you (or somebody else on the list) know whether the StoreVault
product(s) are or will be certified for usage with Oracle database as
described in
("Network Appliance" is mentioned, not Data ONTAP).

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Compliments for our Complementary support

I just got off the phone with a customer who was telling me that our service and support was fantastic and he can't understand why NetApp doesn't see our legacy support as a complementary service for their legacy filer customers. What is astonishing is that this is from a customer at one of the largest computer companies in the world, that is known for outstanding equipment, service and support to their customers.

We really appreciate hearing that our customers appreciate the efforts we put into making certain that they get the highest availability and best support possible for their NetApp equipment.

Thanks for the encouragement!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The other day, one of our engineers and I flew into CYTZ - Toronto Island Airport to visit with some of our customers in Toronto. I told our engineer that landing at Toronto Island provides some great opportunities for some pictures, and I think this is the best picture he took.

Having an airplane allows us to leave from our office, go to the local airport, get in our plane, and arrive at a customer's offices in Toronto within four hours.

The meetings in Toronto went very well, and we are looking forward to making this trip again.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Ken Lay's Golden Egg

Over the last few years we have heard a lot of complaining about Ken Lay in the media. But the Computer Storage business should try to make him into a Saint. Before the collapse of Enron the storage industry was happy to sell storage to Enron. After the collapse of Enron the Congress made a gift to the Storage industry by enacting Sarbanes Oxley. The act should have been known as the Storage Business and Accounting Firm Welfare Act, because storage became a sacred area that has to be secure and backed up, and backed up again, and again. And certified by the SARBOX auditors who know nothing about computer storage at all.

Only Congress could have enacted a worse travesty on American business than Ken Lay ever was.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

NetApp Storevault

Lately it seems like everyone wants my comments on Storevault by NetApp. All I know about the product is what I have read in articles on the Internet and heard from other folks. About a month ago we received a mailing to become a reseller of Storevault, but we did not respond to the mailing. I have read Dave Hitz' blog on the product - but I don't really understand the product placement at all.

Doing the math:
It seems like an expensive unit to me for what it delivers. 1TB Raw from (4) 250GB drives for $5000.00 seem a bit high. If it is using RAID DP than two disks of the four are needed for parity and with one disk as a spare, it does not seem to leave much room for data. I have no idea what the yearly software license and support costs will be. I have heard that the product is going to be completely supported out of India, but I have no confirmation of this. The last article I read about the product seems to confirm the 1 TB Raw unit price, but does not provide a cost for 1TB usable.

StoreVault S500 starts at about $5,000 for the base model with 1TB, consisting of four 250GB drives. It is available immediately through NetApp's resellers.

The math as it works out from the articles & blogs I have read. (See Toigo here , Hitz here, Strange here)
Step 1) 4 disks of 250 GB = 1TB raw.
Step 2) Rightsizing of disks typically works out to about 10%, so the Net Disk Space available after rightsizing is 900GB available.
Step 3) RAID DP requires two disks for Parity 900GB - 2*(225GB) = 450GB available.
Step 4) NetApp suggests that users keep a spare disk 450GB - 225GB =225GB available.
Step 5) Typically NetApp says to keep a 20% Snap reserve for snapshots. 225GB *.8 = 180GB available.
Step 6) File system overhead - I don't know how big the Ontap Lite OS is, but let's assume it takes 5GB 180GB - 5GB=175 GB available

$5000.00 for somewhere between 175GB usable and 225GB usable out of 1TB raw does not seem like a very good deal to me. At CDW a 1.6 TB Snap Server costs $4859.99

I don't know what the street price will be for the unit with 1 or 2 TB of usable data and three year software and hardware support. If the unit can provide 3TB of usable storage for under $10,000.00 it might be be a viable product.

Most of the resellers with feet on the street I speak to need a minimum of 25% margin before they can make any money on a product. It costs a lot of money to keep a salesman on the street and a Sales Engineer on staff. Will resellers be able to sell enough of these units at the $5000.00 - $10,000.00 price point to cover their costs of sales?

Perhaps a company like CDW can make a go out of the product. But when it costs about $140,000 in salary alone for a reseller company to keep a sales team on the street, it might be awfully difficult to make the team concentrate on an unproven product. If the average street price is $10,000.00 and the sales team can sell 2 units a week , they may be able to sell a $1,000,000 a year. Will there be profit left after the costs of sales and taxes to provide a profit for the owner? It is awfully expensive to do missionary sales work on a new product, it will be interesting to see what happens. See TMC here.

Please email me if you think I have made a mistake in my math. Bringing the benefits of Ontap to small business would be a great thing to do. I hope NetApp succeeds in its efforts, but there is enormous competition in the small business sector.

Happy Fourth of July!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska has some interesting views on the Internet, VOIP and Email, that will give us all confidence in our legislative branch's understanding of technology. Enjoy this over the holiday...

Your Own Personal Internet

The Senate Commerce Committee deadlocked 11 to 11 on an amendment inserting some very basic net neutrality provisions into a moving telecommunications bill. The provisions didn't prohibit an ISP from handling VOIP faster than emails, but would have made it illegal to handle its own VOIP packets faster than a competitor's.

Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) explained why he voted against the amendment and gave an amazing primer on how the internet works.

There's one company now you can sign up and you can get a movie delivered to your house daily by delivery service. Okay. And currently it comes to your house, it gets put in the mail box when you get home and you change your order but you pay for that, right.

But this service isn't going to go through the interent and what you do is you just go to a place on the internet and you order your movie and guess what you can order ten of them delivered to you and the delivery charge is free.

Ten of them streaming across that internet and what happens to your own personal internet?

I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why?

Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the internet commercially.

So you want to talk about the consumer? Let's talk about you and me. We use this internet to communicate and we aren't using it for commercial purposes.

We aren't earning anything by going on that internet. Now I'm not saying you have to or you want to discrimnate against those people [...]

The regulatory approach is wrong. Your approach is regulatory in the sense that it says "No one can charge anyone for massively invading this world of the internet". No, I'm not finished. I want people to understand my position, I'm not going to take a lot of time. [?]

They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the internet. And again, the internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a truck.

It's a series of tubes.

And if you don't understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and its going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.

Now we have a separate Department of Defense internet now, did you know that?

Do you know why?

Because they have to have theirs delivered immediately. They can't afford getting delayed by other people.


Now I think these people are arguing whether they should be able to dump all that stuff on the internet ought to consider if they should develop a system themselves.

Maybe there is a place for a commercial net but it's not using what consumers use every day.

It's not using the messaging service that is essential to small businesses, to our operation of families.

The whole concept is that we should not go into this until someone shows that there is something that has been done that really is a viloation of net neutraility that hits you and me.

What can I add to that statement?