Saturday, January 27, 2007

Genius is 1% inspiration & 99% perspiration- Edison

The other night I was reading about the Wright brothers and I came upon this statement:
Wilbur and Orville were sons of a church Bishop and a mother who viewed her fulltime duty as raising her children into healthy, strong adults with moral fiber and model Christian citizens. The brothers didn't smoke, drink liquor or use swear words and never worked or flew their airplane on Sundays. Moral ambiguity was not a characteristic of their behavior.

Times have certainly changed since the early 1900's . NetApp's software is a play on words and called "OnTap" and in a recent patent they use the term "swizzling" in reference to writing blocks and pointers in Patent # 7,130,873. I understand that great men like General U.S. Grant & Winston Churchill enjoyed a cocktail now and then, so why not the folks at NetApp? just for fun , count how many swizzles are in the next paragraphs.

One skilled in the art will understand that the first block-list and the second block-list can be combined to be a mapping between the storage blocks in the source file system and the storage blocks in the destination file system. Such a one will also understand that this is equivalent to the previously described embodiment where the first block-list describes where storage blocks are stored in the source file system and the second block-list describes where the storage blocks are stored on the destination file system. Both of these approaches (and other equivalent approaches) provide enough information for the invention to swizzle the storage blocks on the destination file system.

FIG. 5 illustrates an on-the-fly swizzling process, indicated by general reference numeral 500, that implements "on-the-fly swizzling". In on-the-fly swizzling, the BN pointers are swizzled while the image stream is being written to the destination file system. This type of swizzling updates the BN pointers as the storage blocks are written to the destination file system instead of performing the BN pointer update after all the storage blocks have been written. Thus, each block is only written once and often storage blocks can be arranged to be written in full RAID stripes. The on-the-fly swizzling process 500 initiates at a `start` terminal 501 and continues to an `iterate each block` procedure 503. The `iterate each block` procedure 503 initially reads and stores any provided information that can be used to map the storage blocks between file systems (such as the first block-list portion 405 and the second block-list portion 407) and then reads each block from the image stream. When all storage blocks are read from the image stream, the on-the-fly swizzling process 500 completes through an `end` terminal 505. A `BN block` decision procedure 507 checks each storage block against the block information in the first block-list (or equivalent) to determine whether the storage block contains a BN pointer. If the storage block does not contain a BN pointer, the on-the-fly swizzling process 500 continues to a `write block` procedure 509 that writes the block to the destination file system and the process continues to the `iterate each block` procedure 503 to process additional storage blocks or to complete.

I guess all this talk of swizzling means they like their drinks stirred at NetApp, and not shaken? Sometimes it takes me a few beers or cocktails to work my way through NetApp's USPTO documents, how about you? On the other hand, the Wright brothers documents are easy to understand.

Check out the Wright brother's patent of 1906
To all whom it may concern:
Be it known that we, ORVILLE WRIGHT
and WILBUR WRIGHT, citizens of the United
States, residing in the city of Dayton, county
of Montgomery, and State of Ohio, have in-
vented certain new and useful Improvements
in Flying-Machines, of which the following is
a specification.
Our invention relates to that class of fly-
ing machines in which the weight is sustained
by the reactions resulting when one or more
aeroplanes are moved through the air edge-
wise at a small angle of incidence, either by
the application of mechanical power or by
the utilization of the force of gravity.

The Wright brothers certainly were clear, concise and easy to understand.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Packaging is one of the most important parts of our business and we take pride in the quality of our packaging. Developing techniques and procedures to make certain that our equipment arrives at our customer sites in perfect condition takes a lot of effort. Developing the combination of packing materials is also quite an effort . It is worth it though, as we ship equipment all over the world and we have very rarely encountered damage to our equipment .

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

NetApp's Rich Clifton leaves me with more questions than answers from this interview. But it is worth reading and remembering that NetApp has a record of leaving its partners in the cold. So keep that in mind when you read about the IBM relationship and the Kazeon relationship. As previous posts on this blog have suggested NetApp views long term relationships much as Paris Hilton does. But Paris is much more interesting.

We had the opportunity to talk with Rich Clifton, NetApp's VP and GM networked storage business units. The topics ranged from the IBM relationship to tiered storage, maximising IOPS, storage intelligence in the network and de-duplication. What became apparent is that there are several strong lights underneath the NetApp bushels.

TechWorld: How is the IBM relationship working?
Rich Clifton: It's meeting our expectations in terms of what's happening in the overall market. It seems to be going along fine.

Comment: NetApp and IBM are learning how to work effectively together. This is taking time to accomplish and it's too early to say if the IBM channel is selling lots of NetApp product. IBM is not like a reseller needing a standard channel program set of carrots and sticks to perform. Nor is it a Dell with a single direct sales channel to market, a highly effective but one trick pony. IBM is far more than this and tuning the relationship on both sides is necessary before performance happens. It's a little like a SAP implementation in that lots of groundwork is necessary before the results flow through. That is the impression I derived from Rich Clifton's comments.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

You can't make this up.... it seems that NetApp and another partner are not getting along. Is there a pattern here?

When things were good
Lowell, Mass. - November 21, 2005 -- Acopia Networks, the innovator of Adaptive Resource Networking, today announced that it has joined the NetApp Partner Program to provide tighter integration of Acopia’s award winning ARX products with NetApp enterprise storage systems. Acopia’s products simplify the management and increase the utilization of today’s file storage systems, thereby reducing total cost of ownership (TCO).

Now things are bad
The EMC NAS group views the world the same way that Network Appliance does. They view Acopia as the Antichrist because for them we're creating a heterogeneous abstraction. They're not used to that in the storage world. Cisco may have a dominant position in networking but there are hundreds of companies that exist in that ecosystem.

I wonder what happened to the beautiful relationship to cause such strife? They seemed so happy together.

“The NetApp Partner Program is dedicated to providing customers with partner solutions that are tested to work with NetApp storage, simplifying both deployment and management,” said Patrick Rogers, Vice President of Products and Partners at Network Appliance. “As a member of the NetApp Partner Program, Acopia is providing easy and affordable transparent data migration across storage systems for improved utilization and tiering of storage.”

"As the pioneer and leader in the NAS virtualization space, Acopia is excited to work more closely with the leader in unified storage solutions,” said Christopher P. Lynch, CEO of Acopia. “We believe that as a member of the NetApp Partner Program, we will be able to provide customers with products and solutions that improve the scalability of their existing infrastructure, while enabling them to simplify the management of their storage resources.”

What ever happened to those Long Term Strategic relationships?

"We've always focused on building long-term partner relationships based on trust and integrity," says Leonard Iventosch, vice president of Americas channel sales at NetApp. "This recognition validates the VIP Program and the resellers that have chosen NetApp as their strategic partner."

Acopia's CEO should not be upset - NetApp has a problem with long term commitments, move on Acopia, you will find someone new and so will NetApp .
I did not get a Christmas card this year from [Network Appliance President] Tom Mendoza or [CEO] Dan Warmenhoven, or [EMC CEO and President] Joe Tucci for that matter.

Dave, Dan and Tom did not send Zerowait a card either, but that is okay - A lot of customers did!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Will NetApp continue to be an American company in the future?

A couple of months ago we learned that Ontap ,the NetApp software, is actually owned in the Netherlands for tax reasons. And now we are learning that NetApp's global operations for engineering and product management are being based in Bangalore India.
NetApp Bangalore's engineering operations were established in May 2003. The facility also houses one of the company's four global customer support centers. In addition, it houses other global operations such as partner and product engineering, product management, partner certification, and global IT infrastructure support.

What is left in the USA? Sales and distribution? How well will the Engineers in India listen to customers in the USA?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Another project begins!

A couple of my engineers are Jeep nuts like me, and have been looking for a project Willys Jeep. I have had my eyes on this CJ3B since 1989. My friends took the engine and transmission out years ago and it has been sitting in their barn. So when the property was recently sold I was able to finally get the Jeep. It is in amazingly good shape and has only a little over 26,000 miles on the odometer.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Chuck Hollis of EMC on NetApp marketing techniques.
Click here or read below.

NetApp: Bad Marketing vs. Good Marketing

All is fair in love, war and marketing. Or is it?

Do we, as vendors, have a responsibility to our customers and the marketplace that when we make a claim, that it is generically true, and customers get the benefit we promise?

I believe so.

I believe so strongly, in fact, that I’m taking it upon myself to call out others who may not subscribe to this particular world view.


If you promise a customer that your solution is more cost effective, it shouldn’t end up being more expensive. If you say your solution is simpler, it should not be more complex than what it replaces. If you say its high availability, it should be. If you claim superior performance, that is what it should deliver. And so on.

Deliver on the promise: Good Marketing

Fail to deliver on the promise, or deliver the opposite: Bad Marketing

A few weeks ago, I took the gloves off on a particularly egregious example of Bad Marketing, where NetApp had pushed the limits of benchmarketing too far; to the point where it could probably result in the exact opposite of what was promised.

That’s bad for customers, and bad for the industry.

Now, to be clear, I have no problem with head-to-head competition. I welcome it. It makes all of us in the vendor world better, and it ultimately benefits customers. And I love the rough-and-tumble, he-said-she-said world of IT marketing. It’s fun.

But clear misrepresentation – in spirit, if not in fact – is where we should all draw the line.

Today, I’m going to go a bit further on NetApp on some of their other marketing claims. Not because I don’t welcome an aggressive competitor (I do, believe me), but I cringe when I find people actually believe what they’re saying, and get hurt in the process.

Seductive Claim #1 – NetApp Is Simpler

This is very sexy, at least on the surface.

The premise is that – because NetApp has one primary operating system (ONTAP), and one generic hardware architecture (dual controller storage), that customers can serve all their storage needs with a single, compatible family, saving considerable operational expense.

Damn, that sounds great. Doesn’t it?

Now, if I’m a smaller shop, and my requirements aren’t that demanding, I’d give NetApp the benefit of the doubt. I certainly have met smaller customers who could conceivably run their entire shop on NetApp if they limit what they do.

But let’s look at the facts. There are tens of thousands of customers who’d never consider putting a critical database on an emulated SAN device like NetApp – it’d kill their performance. What happens when a small customer needs that capability, and has to put something different in to do that job?

The simplicity promise is now gone.

Or maybe their environment grows and they find they need more powerful SRM tools, which NetApp doesn’t provide. Or perhaps they find shortcomings in remote replication, or other areas.

Bring in other stuff, and the promise is broken.

As an example, all NetApp customers are now being “strongly encouraged” into a very disruptive upgrade to ONTAP 7G. Usually, there’s new hardware involved, and it involves substantial downtime, unless you use something clever like Rainfinity.

Now, certainly NetApp isn’t the only storage vendor that does this to customers, but it goes right against NetApp’s promise of “simplicity”.

Are there any meaningful performance tuning tools in ONTAP? Not really, that would add complexity. Want to do VTL? That’s a different NTAP storage platform. Want to do encryption? Decru isn’t integrated. Want to do CDP? That’s Topio, also unintegrated.

Nothing wrong with any of these things, really. Other than NetApp promised simplicity, and most customers end up with complexity. And that’s Bad Marketing, in my book.

Don’t promise what you can’t deliver.

Seductive Claim #2 – NetApp Uses Less Storage

NetApp gets to this claim two ways.

First, they point to thin provisioning as using less storage. Actually, thin provisioning helps solve certain poor storage management practices that are common in IT (see here for more info) but comes with its own – ahem – complexity.

And thin provisioning is not unique to NetApp – if after evaluating the pros and cons, you want to do thin provisioning, there are lots of vendors (including EMC) who can do that for you.

Second, they point to a low-overhead snap capability that doesn’t actually make the second copy until it’s written to. Nice trick, but also available from other vendors, including EMC. And, of course, there are pros and cons with different use cases when this would make sense, and when it wouldn’t. It’s not a panacea, and it's not unique.

Nothing wrong with having competitive features compared to other vendors. But to claim that you use less storage than the other guys basd on these claims simply isn’t true, and isn’t supported by the evidence.

I would offer that, in our experience, exactly the opposite is true, in two ways.

First, as many people have noticed (and I’ve pointed out) the only reasonable way to address a performance problem on a NetApp filer is to add more unused storage. When we get called in to solve a performance problem on NetApp, we usually notice that the customer has taken this step, and is using much more storage than would otherwise be needed, simply to present more spindles to ONTAP and WAFL.

Second, EMC has built a nice practice of going into large NetApp shops, running some simple analysis, and showing customer by either deleting or archiving the gorp that’s sitting on their filers, they can use 40-70% less storage.

Put differently, because NetApp doesn’t offer the tools or the practices to do this to their customers, we find that unmanaged NetApp shops use far more storage for file storage than is usually required.

Now, these are not bad things by themselves, but a claim was made for a benefit, and the exact opposite is usually true.

Once again, Bad Marketing in action.

Don’t promise what you can’t deliver.

Seductive Claim #3 – NetApp is the Preferred Choice for Oracle

After reviewing some of the NetApp marketing materials, you’d think that Oracle wouldn’t be able to run on anything else. I run the alliances group at EMC, so I have a bit of an insider perspective on this.

NetApp spends big bucks every year sponsoring Oracle Open World. Well over a million dollars a year, I believe. Oracle really appreciates this money for their event, and reciprocates by saying very nice things about NetApp.

Nothing wrong with that – heck, I enjoyed watching Sir Elton John at OOW this year, as did many of you. The food was pretty good, too.

NetApp also did a great transaction a while ago with Oracle’s Austin Data Center where they run their outsourcing business. I’m not privy to the exact details, but there seems to be an exchange-in-kind where Oracle got a great deal on hardware, and NetApp got a great marketing reference. The result is a slick video where Oracle people running Austin talk about how great NetApp is.

All part of the normal give-and-take that sometimes goes on. Here's what you might not know ...

So, what does Oracle run their production systems on? The ones that keep their company running? Their email? The majority of their development environment? The gigantic Oracle Single Instance at the very heart of their company?


So, back to the theme. I’d agree that NetApp is Oracle’s preferred marketing partner in the storage world these days, but there’s a far stretch between that financial arrangement and the one NetApp is claiming.

Again, Bad Marketing in action.

Seductive Claim #4 – NetApp Is An Enterprise Storage Company

This one makes no sense to me whatsoever. There’s a big difference between selling storage to large enterprises, and being an enterprise storage company.

My company (a large enterprise) buys memory sticks from a small company. Does that make them an enterprise storage company too?

More specifically, do companies trust NetApp with their most mission-critical applications? Do they have the robust architectures, backed up by expensive service and support capabilities? Do they have experience in some of the most demanding IT environments in the world?

I’m OK with NetApp claiming that they sell to large enterprises, because they do.

Usually it’s test and dev environments, or maybe a large file farm, or something else that isn’t deemed mission critical. And, trust me, they do a very good job selling to places where they’re good, and staying out of environments that they don’t do well in.

But – please – don’t torture that statement into positioning yourself as an enterprise storage company. You folks haven’t made the investments in products, testing, service and support to back up that claim.

Someone could get hurt.

Bad Marketing in action, again.

Seductive Claim #5 – NetApp Products Offer Superior Performance

I won’t rehash this one again (see here), but – once again, we have Bad Marketing in action. One thing is promised, and the exact opposite is usually true.

Bad Marketing In Perspective

Now, to be fair, I’m picking on NetApp pretty hard here. They’re big boys, they can take it. Heck, they dish out plenty of dirt to EMC, so they must expect a bit of a rebuke regarding their business practices. And the practice of Bad Marketing is hardly limited to NetApp.

And you may be thinking – is EMC any better in this regard?

I sit on several marketing review committees, and we try – as hard as we can – to make sure that if we claim something in our marketing material, that we can back it up, and – more importantly – we’re not leading people into the exact opposite outcome. We’re not anywhere close to perfect in doing this, but we consider it very important to make a consistent effort in this regard, and to try to get better.

My real beef is that I don’t think NetApp is even trying.

The real question – for all IT vendors -- is what’s the goal here?

Is it to grow the stock price by showing strong growth and numbers?

Or is the goal to build a franchise built on serving customers needs, and building trust?

I would offer that – in the long run – they would ideally be the same thing. I just wish more people felt that way.

Certainly, customers would be better served.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Why does NetApp charge so much for their equipment?

I get asked this all the time, and the answer is based on many factors but mostly it is because the market perceives a NetApp label to be worth more than the Seagate label, Intel label or Qlogic label. NetApp hardware is based on Common Off The Shelf equipment. Except for a few proprietary parts made by some of their contract manufacturers. The major value of their systems is in their software "OnTap" . However, thanks to transferable licenses you can buy this software at a deep discount. We can help you do this!

Customers can get deep discounts on NetApp hardware and software by shopping around . IBM discounts NetApp hardware and software substantially, and NetApp has been quoting their systems at levels of over 40% to many customers according to some of the quotes that we have seen recently from customers.

Some things never change ! If 2007 is the year you want to reduce your costs of NetApp acquisitions, get competitive quotes! Call us we will show you how!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Has California Seceded from the United States and joined the European Union?

RoHS Regulations Adopted and DVD Players with LCD’s Covered

On December 29, 2006 the California Office of Administrative Law (OAL) approved California regulations implementing RoHS, and adding DVD players to the list of electronic devices that are presumed to be hazardous wastes when discarded.

As mandated by the Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2003, as amended, and pursuant to section 25214.10 of the Health and Safety Code, one of these regulations adds section 66260.202 to title 22 of the California Code of Regulations, and became effective January 1, 2007. This new section restricts the use of certain heavy metals in "covered electronic devices" (as defined in Public Resources Code, section 42463 (f).

Pursuant to this new regulation, "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." This sales prohibition, also known as the California RoHS regulation, applies to all "covered electronic devices" manufactured on or after January 1, 2007.

The other regulation became effective on December 31, 2006, and adds portable DVD players with liquid crystal display (LCD) screens greater than four inches measured diagonally to the list of electronic devices that are presumed to be hazardous wastes when discarded (California Code of Regulations, title 22, chapter 11, appendix X, subsection (c)).

As a result of this listing, portable DVD players with liquid crystal display (LCD) screens greater than four inches measured diagonally are "covered electronic devices", as defined in Public Resources Code, section 42463 (f), and are subject to all provisions of the Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2003, as amended. Beginning on July 1, 2007, any retailer that sells or offers for sale in California, portable DVD players with liquid crystal display (LCD) screens greater than four inches measured diagonally, is required to collect a recycling fee pursuant to Public Resources Act, sections 42464 et seq.

As a result of this listing, portable DVD players with liquid crystal display (LCD) screens greater than four inches measured diagonally that are manufactured on or after July 1, 2007 will also become subject to the California RoHS regulation specified in section 66260.202 in title 22 of the California Code of Regulations.

More information can be obtained by contacting DTSC, or through the following websites:

Reminder: DTSC To Hold Workshop On Notification And Annual Reporting Requirements For Handlers And Recyclers Of UWEDs And CRTs

The Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) will hold a training workshop to cover DTSC's new online reporting system designed to streamline submittal of notifications and annual reports required by persons engaged in the collection, handling and/or treatment of Universal Waste Electronic Devices or CRT Materials.

The workshop will cover existing notification and annual reporting requirements. A demonstration of DTSC's new on line reporting system will be conducted. The new system will benefit handlers, collectors and recyclers by providing a means to electronically manage and report data required to comply with notification and annual reporting requirements.

The workshop will be held at the following time and place:

January 12, 2007

10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

CalEPA Headquarters

Coastal Hearing Room

1001 "I" Street, 2nd Floor

Sacramento, California 95814

More information is available at:

Reminder: CEW Payment System Final Regulations in Effect Now

Please note that final regulations governing the CEW payment system were approved by OAL on November 27, 2006, and have been in effect since that time. The California Integrated Waste Management Board encourages all participants in the CEW payment system to familiarize themselves with all provisions.

The CEW payment system regulations and enabling statutes can be found at: