Thursday, September 28, 2006

Will Sun and ZFS take over the enterprise?
Robin Harris at 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!