Sunday, April 29, 2007

No Hassles. Rest easy. Call Zerowait!

Last week I was at the ASCDI conference in Las Vegas and got a chance to hear how terrible it is to be a reseller of Sun Equipment. It seems that a majority of the folks in attendance at the show have something to do with Sun in one way or another. Sun has not been playing fair for the last few years and so the ASCDI has filed some paperwork in the UK to fight for free trade.
Here is a link to the ASCDI page of information

The ASCDI is pretty certain that it is going to win the action, and the law firm representing ASCDI thinks it will apply to all technology companies that have a command economy mentality to their parts support and distribution models. Sun is the biggest abuser, so it seems to be first on the list.

With all the talent that big companies in Sillycon Valley have you would think that they would hire some people with enough economics and business sense to recognize that consumers in any market will find a way to get the products at prices they desire. And that companies will spring up to fill the requests of these customers. But for whatever reason, Sillycon Valley technology companies generally don't understand the dynamics of markets. IBM seems to be the one company that does understand the marketplace when it comes to marketing revenue from the secondary market of its own equipment, however their division that resells the NetApp re branded equipment are as blind to the profit potential of secondary parts sales and third party support as NetApp is.

I appreciate the hassles that NetApp and IBM are causing their customers in this market niche. If they made it easy for customers to work with them, customers would not be flocking to Zerowait for our service and support offerings. So if you are tired of being hassled by NetApp's sales folks to purchase their latest and greatest marketing acronym fad upgrade, give us a call and we will help you maintain your current perfectly good equipment at a reasonable price, without any hassles!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Great Companies combine Innovation with Customer Focus.

I was having a conversation with a buddy of mine last night and we were comparing the NetApp of the mid to late 90's to the NetApp of today. In the old days, NetApp seemed really concerned with technology and how it helped solve customer problems. My buddy was complaining because today's NetApp is all about license fees and marketing limits on capacity and ways to milk his company for more money. Paying more for licenses means there is less money for staffing development and budget for raises to keep his good staff.

He asked ' What happened to the company that was all about innovations that helped the customer? I couldn't answer that. I know a lot of the same people are still working there. I read Dave Hitz's blog a lot and he seems to be still working there. Dave certainly does not seem to be engaged in the programming anymore, from his blog he seems to acting more like a marketing droid. Dave and I have not talked in years, although he writes to this blog occasionally, perhaps he can clarify?

My buddy said 'NetApp had a great technology that hit the market at the right time, can they maintain leadership in a market that is rapidly commoditizing?' I replied that that I would keep an eye out for companies that can sell at a commodity price a package of Sun ZFS, cheap JBODs, and Seagate or Hitachi 1 TB or above drives. When 2 or 3 of these companies hit the market a real fight will begin.

When these commodity solutions hit the enterprise marketplace EMC , NetApp and the other SAN & NAS packagers will be in for an SGI/ DEC/ WANG type of business decline. Because they won't be able to justify their price delta, since they are all selling the same drives.

Technology can be a harsh mistress, therefore I would bet on the company that has the lowest cost solution that answers their chosen market's needs the best.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Our technology and processes provide our customers with a competitive advantage!

In order to provide our customers with better service than the OEM does we had to develop faster and better systems for service and support. At first these systems were developed to allow us to compete against other people in the third party service and support business. But as the years went by some of these system became stand alone products like the ZHA Exception Reporter.

Exception Reporter gives our customers a competitive advantage and also provides us with better visibility into the failure rates of system components.

Competition is the mother of invention!

Friday, April 20, 2007

"first do no harm" - from the Hippocratic oath ( well, sort of).

Don't you wish that Enterprise storage vendors felt that way? It seems that many companies believe that storage vendors don't care about the damage they cause their customers, they only care about their quarterly sales numbers.

From Byte and Switch....

The survey of 387 users, many from large financial outfits, the bellwether of user satisfaction for many industry suppliers, shows that customers are using more vendors and liking them less. Just four percent of respondents from large companies trust their vendors enough to take their word on a fix. And a shocking 47 percent of those polled said vendor-recommended upgrades either didn't solve a problem or made it worse.

It seems storage suppliers are doing their customers as much harm as good.

The media seems to be picking up what we have been reporting on this blog for a while now. Which is that the Enterprise storage vendors are successfully destroying their trust relationships with their customers in a quest for more systems sales and revenue growth. Maybe this is one reason why alternative support companies like Zerowait are growing so fast.

The manufacturer's really need to work on gaining the trust of their customers, currently 96% of their customers don't trust them. Just four percent of respondents from large companies trust their vendors enough to take their word on a fix.

I would say that the storage vendors have a real problem on their hands.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The tighter your grip, the fewer seeds of grain you can hold in your hand.

Yesterday I was in NYC visiting with clients that were furious at NetApp's escalating costs of maintenance, and also the pace of change on ESH's and LRC's which make NetApp's storage shelves more and more proprietary. These customers recognize that by making things more proprietary NetApp intends to lock them into NetApp's technology. But NetApp has squeezed these clients too hard, and now they are actively shopping for alternative sources of maintenance for their NetApp hardware and looking for Commercial Off The Shelf Storage solutions for future storage purchases.

Most of the seeds that drop out of a tightened grip are scattered, but a few take root and grow. Zerowait's business continues to grow by offering clients an affordable alternative to NetApp service and support. I guess we are a lucky seed.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Unintended consequences of disk to disk back up.

Recently a number of our clients have been told that they can't get any more power into their data centers. After asking some questions, I found that a number of them have changed from tape backups to disk to disk back up. They use tape for archiving.

As these clients now realize the Disk to Disk solutions were great on paper, but the extra disk and the extra cooling required for the spinning media caught up with them on the power side of their infrastructure.

Free Unlimited Power is not available to everyone yet, and so tape may remain a good answer for companies that do not have an unlimited power supply available to them for some time into the future.

I wonder when we will see a whitepaper from EMC or NetApp discussing power consumption of Disk to Disk back up as compared with Tape backup?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Has IBM tired of dancing with NetApp?

I have always thought it strange that IBM would be a reseller of NetApp equipment, making very marginal rates of return for its stockholders. It just makes more business sense for IBM to own and sell their own NAS products because they could own the Intellectual Property. It may be that IBM was using the NetApp product line to learn how to sell into the departmental NAS market niche, where NetApp is strongest.

If IBM has decided to dominate the departmental NAS space, the rumors of an IBM acquisition of Falconstor make a lot of sense.

Wall Street analysts said that IBM has been looking at this acquisition for some time but has been waiting for FalconStor to get real traction. "That time would seem to be now,"

Only time will tell.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Does $50,000.00 a TB sound expensive to you?

NetApp's newest software costs that much.
ReplicatorX is available now for $50,000 per Tbyte of replicated data.

Let's do some simple math on a typical small NetApp system which has 10TB on it

10TB * $50,000.00 = $500,000.00 Doesn't that sound expensive to you?

That is just for the software, you still need a second filer to replicate too!

I wonder what the commission structure is on that software!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

If you think the Enterprise Storage business is nuts, just try to figure out Congress.

From Economist:
Dubai Aerospace agreed to buy two aircraft-maintenance companies in North America, one in Canada, the other in Arizona, from Carlyle Group for $1.8 billion. Charles Schumer, an American senator who opposed the takeover of operations in American ports by a company from Dubai last year, said this acquisition did not raise the same level of security concerns

If I recall the events of September 11, 2001 airplanes struck the WTC and the Pentagon, not ships.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

How will a trade war with Asia affect your storage infrastructure?

1) Most of the components in enterprise storage systems are made in Asia.
2) Most of the assemblies in your storage infrastructure are made in Asia.
3) A lot of software engineering and technical design is done is Asia.

So when I read things like this from the Economist - I get a little worried.

After a long drawn out, and highly fraught, negotiation that pushed right up against the deadline, America and South Korea have inked a new trade deal. It is the largest America has signed since NAFTA. However, tensions between the Bush administration and resurgent protectionists in America's new Democratic Congress make it highly uncertain that the pact will be ratified. In related news, China is protesting an about-face on anti-dumping suits by America's Treasury department, which has resulted in punitive tariffs on paper products

Maybe it is time to write our Senators and Representatives, so they will stop this silliness?