Thursday, March 31, 2011

NetApp's supply issues

Over the last several weeks I have heard from various customers that NetApp is having a hard time meeting delivery schedules for FAS 3200's and FAS 6200's. This has been good for Zerowait's business since many folks are deciding to increase their storage with equipment from Zerowait which we have in stock.

Additionally, many NetApp customers who are looking for lower cost NetApp solutions that are 64 bit have been asking about the availability of Transferable Licensed 3040's and FAS3070's. There are plenty available now and these can certainly help customers who are upgrading get the hardware they need at an affordable price which will run version 8 and above of OnTap.

Over the last several years, as NetApp's 4th quarter came to an end their customers were able to negotiate better deals on equipment purchases. But with tight supplies NetApp's sales teams may be be willing to provide hardware upgrades at better prices on equipment that they can deliver by end of quarter. Tight supplies and End of Fiscal Year pressures may combine to create some interesting buying opportunities for NetApp's customers.

We have had a great 1st quarter and look forward to continued growth this year as the worldwide community of Zerowait customers continues to grow. The sales team at Zerowait has been traveling extensively over the last several months as interest in our affordable NetApp Support gains more customers. And over the next several months we expect this to continue.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Is your data storage vendor your advocate or your competitor?

Last week I was talking to a client and he was asking me why his data storage vendor wants to make it harder for him to access and maintain his data. It was an interesting conversation because I had never looked at the paradigm from that perspective.

In most businesses your vendor wants you to succeed and wants your company to grow and they do that by making their products and services more convenient. But in the Storage business the vendors who create proprietary operating systems and file systems want to rapidly End of Life (EOL) equipment and constantly create software upgrades to maintain their income stream, potentially preventing you from accessing your data as it is currently configured.

I am not a Luddite, but I am not in favor of my vendor partners locking me into their upgrade cycle. Once I purchase a piece of equipment or hardware I want to be able to maintain it a long time, and if it is a piece of equipment that has our company’s data on it I want to be able to continue to access it.

Last week in Computer Reseller News, a NetApp executive was quoted as saying:

"We are in a very good margin position with our partners, compared with our competitors," said Parrish. "But the danger is if you over-recruit, you over-distribute the product and that is the number-one cause of margin erosion."

“Instead, the priority for NetApp is working with its existing partners to trap more mid-market business.”


As a business owner I don’t want to be trapped by my vendors into making deals, the main purpose of which is to make them great margins. I want my vendors to work with us on our long-term business growth, not tomorrow’s or this financial quarter’s. Our customers purchased High Availability Storage equipment from NetApp and they don’t understand why they have to upgrade just because it is good for NetApp’s business. A business partnership should be beneficial to all, sellers and consumers, or it cannot continue for the long term. Since Zerowait’s goal is to maintain and support high availability storage equipment for the long-term, our business aligns with the needs of many customers because it helps them substantially reduce their costs of hardware manufacturer dictated upgrades and the expensive data migrations that result. Zerowait has very successfully been supporting customers around the world who are operating NetApp beyond the manufacturer’s recommended EOL.

Our NetApp support customers needed an advocate and an ally that understood that data access was critical, and that maintaining High Availability equipment to be reliable was the goal. But, maintaining software support from a vendor that wants to force you to upgrade is not easy and is often extraordinarily expensive.

This is an example of the kind of Vendor thinking that drove our customers to ask us to create SimplStor, an open source reliable enterprise storage solution. Business executives around the world have embraced Open Source Linux, BSD and many variants to be their front line web servers, and workstations, and even the biggest storage companies use Linux on their servers and equipment for the simple reason that is reliable and it is inexpensive. And most storage vendors have been using highly reliable Commodity Off The Shelf Technology (COTS) for years. NetApp is proud to say it uses it also:

NetApp is not only notching hefty sales (expected to hit $2 billion in fiscal 2006) but it has also managed to maintain sky-high 60%-plus gross margins, despite building its gear with commodity, off-the-shelf parts.


Therefore, it seems odd that these same storage companies tell their customers that their proprietary systems are better and more cost-effective for all types of data. Zerowait’s customers know better. They understand that even their storage vendors’ studies show that most storage is not actually primary storage but is some sort of Secondary, Tertiary or Archival data.

"Compared to the full amount of allocated storage on the file servers, this represents only 10 percent of data," Leung said. '[This] means that 90 percent of the data is untouched during this three-month period.”


Zerowait’s customers know that high reliability storage does not have to be expensive; it just needs to be maintained and monitored to last a long time. And this does not have to cost a lot. The Big Boys of storage know this also. If they did not think Linux was reliable they would not be using it in their systems.

Zerowait’s savvy customers asked if we could build them a simple reliable storage system that uses the same O/S that the Big Storage guys use on their internal systems. We did what our customers asked and now Zerowait has added SimplStor to the high reliability storage systems and equipment we are building and maintaining around the world.

We are focused on providing our customers long term service and support for their data storage requirements. It seems our competitors are focused on their own short term margins. Which works better for you?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Our Customers are right!

Over the last few weeks we have been working with a few international Fortune 500 customers on their NetApp service and support quotes. Now that we have our Australian operations set up we can provide these companies with affordable support around the world, and they are quickly recognizing how much they can save on their NetApp support by switching to Zerowait hardware support program.

What we are hearing is that a lot of companies are shocked at the cost of continuing support and the license fees that NetApp is charging them, and they no longer see the value. Most Storage is not primary storage, and while not everyone is embracing storage tiering , almost everyone recognizes that keeping Petabytes of archive storage on primary storage arrays is very expensive, and data migrations are not easy. But at some budgetary inflection point even the Fortune 500 companies are realizing it is time to change the paradigm. NetApp used to market itself as a disruptive technology, and their NAS solutions did change things quite a bit. But now many of our customers have over 100 filers, and they are feeling budgetary disruptions at renewal and upgrade time.

Our SimplStor is an evolutionary storage solution, based on best of breed commercial hardware. There is nothing disruptive about SimplStor except that we have driven down the price point to make storage affordable to our customers. Our customers need affordable storage that can grow to a Petabyte and beyond, and we provided them the solution they asked for.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Petabytes of savings

Over the last several weeks we have received increasing interest in our SimplStor affordable storage as an excellent alternative for the CCTV market. At first we began by working with folks on hundreds of terabytes, and then we started to get requests for a couple of Petabyte solutions and now we are working with a prospect on an installation of over 30 Petabytes. Single name space on an affordable enterprise storage platform makes a very attractive package to a lot of organizations around the world.

Additionally, we are finding a lot of our customers are looking for an affordable Private Cloud Service Provider. Our friends at The New Push provide outstanding service and support, and since they use our platforms for storage we recommend them a lot : ) Contact the New Push here

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Zerowait in the news

Last week while I was in the UK I spoke to a few media folks about Zerowait and our services and support. Dave Simpson of InfoStor wrote this in his blog.

"What are your post-lease options?

March 4, 2011 – When your lease or warranty runs out (or even when you’re on lease or warranty), you have a number of options. You can undergo a total technology refresh and buy new systems from your primary storage supplier – an expensive option, and it’s likely that you don’t really need the latest and greatest gear. Or, you can re-up and sign an extended service-and-support agreement with your primary vendor – another expensive option.

Alternatively, you can contract with a third party that provides support for all kinds of IT hardware. But let’s say you’re a NetApp shop: What level of expertise does a general-purpose third party really have on NetApp systems?

A third alternative is to sign a services-and-support contract with a third party that specializes specifically in the type of hardware you have. In the case of NetApp systems, a good example is Zerowait."

Dave's article goes on to discuss the services and support for NetApp we provide as well as our SimplStor product by talking to one of our customers in Colorado.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

United Kingdom

This week I am in the UK working with a few customers around London and our office in Manchester. There is a lot of interest here in our SimplStor product as an alternative to NetApp and IBM N Series for secondary storage and Archiving. And that is not surprising considering this article:

" How Companies Are Managing The Data Tsunami

"It would have cost a company about $1.7 million last year to buy the hardware and equipment necessary to store 1 petabyte of data — roughly enough to store the entire collection of the Library Of Congress several times over.

That's not very expensive, really, to store 1 quadrillion bytes — a numeral 1, with 15 zeros after it.

The real challenge is managing that data deluge. That's sparking massive investor interest in the cloud computing and data storage space, as well as a slew of mergers and acquisitions."

A Petabyte of SimplStor including Single Namespace sells for under $350,000 with support and it fits in a single rack. And Zerowait SimplStor customers don't have the security issues related to cloud computing. It makes a great alternative to archiving.

What could your company do with a spare Million Dollars?