Monday, April 30, 2012

Big storage does not have to be expensive

Over the last few weeks I have been working with several of our international clients in the energy, defense, and media sectors to help them solve some of their big data cost issues. Our customers are using RedHat throughout their enterprises and are looking for affordable big  storage solutions.

One of our customers sent us a link a few weeks ago about the updates to XFS and how it is going to be included in the next release of RedHat as a supported file system. The  video link below of Dave Chiner giving a talk provides a great overview of how the improved XFS can help our clients manage their large storage requirements.

Additionally, Redhat’s management  is  aggressively pushing storage development  as Jim Whitehurst – RedHat CEO - has said recently:
“Open source is ultimately where all companies are heading,” Whitehurst stated flatly.
“…So far at Red Hat, my focus as been squarely on our datacenter business, trying to execute really well on our core offerings. I think the future is in the cloud and big data. Our acquisition of Gluster last year and the work we have done around these storage offerings gives us a huge opportunity — an opportunity that I think could actually be bigger than the Linux business.”

Our customers tell us  that they need a way of controlling their storage  costs while maintaining their high availability  storage equipment. After all, it was our NetApp support customers that helped us develop our SimplStor product line because they knew that we could provide them with enterprise level service and support for their hardware.

Yesterday I visited a large defense contractor and in addition to the NetApp support he was getting quotes on he wanted to know if our SimplStor products could help him with his large data archiving project without blowing his budget. It was an interesting conversation, and as with  so many of  our customers there was a recognition that Enterprise hardware support and Enterprise RedHat with a great file system  can provide an affordable high availability storage solution.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Transcontinental travel and coffee

As regular readers of this blog know I travel a lot on business to see our global clients, and in the last three weeks I have been in Sydney, NSW; Australia, Dallas, TX; USA , Charlotte, NC; USA, our offices in Wilmington, DE; USA, and the last couple of days I have been in Toronto, ON; Canada.

A lot of the time I am pretty tired due to the time zones and I like to drink coffee. The Flat White that I get in Australia is absolutely the best coffee. Also, in Australia it seems that a lot of business meetings are in the coffee houses or the clubs over a Coopers beer. As you can imagine it is easy to stay hydrated while traveling to visit customers in Sydney, but there is the issue of drinking a lot of Flat White coffee and a lot of beer to contend with. Somehow business gets done, and Zerowait Corp. PTY in Australia is doing quite well.

In the USA, we just don't have coffee as good as a Flat White. I like Newman's Own for the Kuerig, and I drink a lot of it especially after I return from a trip to Sydney either in our Dallas, TX office or our Wilmington, DE Headquarters. I drink a lot of coffee in meetings in the USA also, but there are not as many meetings with beer as there are in Sydney. At home I like Sam Adams Cherry wheat on a hot day, or a Shiner Bock just about any time.

For the last couple of days I have been in the Toronto area visiting our customers. And when I am in downtown Toronto I often go to Jimmies Coffee. Today I went there with some customers and we ordered their Flat White. It is not as good as the Flat White I get in Sydney. At dinner with customers in Ontario I like to order the Rickards Red. For lunch in Toronto I like to go to Indian Restaurants, and they are really good here.

I have never done a statistical study of the business derived from meetings with coffee or meetings with beer, it might be an interesting project for a graduate student's masters thesis. I think meeting personally with our customers helps Zerowait understand what our customers' needs are and also helps me learn how we can help our customers accomplish their goals easier.

Over the last few years of traveling I have learned that folks around the world like to discuss business over coffee or beer, and that is one of the things that makes my travel schedule enjoyable. And I can dream that someday even the Airlines could make Sydney quality Flat White coffee.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Changes in Federal Storage Procurement

Zerowait provides hardware support and transferable licensed NetApp filers to a lot of Federal, State, and Military organizations. The Federal government and Military, in particular, typically hold on to Enterprise storage equipment longer than the commercial market does. Therefore, Zerowait’s NetApp Legacy support business for government organizations is growing steadily. Zerowait can and does save the agencies tremendous amounts of money, but due to the complex procurement process it takes quite some time to acquire new business from the Government. Perhaps this new IT procurement initiative will make the process a little more efficient.

“Federal agencies will be moving significant portions of their annual IT spending to "commodity" type procurement vehicles by the end of 2012. As part of continuing reforms in IT acquisition and management, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has directed agencies to immediately begin the process of consolidating IT procurement, with a focus on shared service arrangements.

The initiative is designed to accelerate the adoption of more efficient private sector IT acquisition practices by federal agencies.

"The stovepiped and complex nature of the federal enterprise has led over the years to a proliferation of duplicative and low priority investments in information technology," Jeffrey Zients, acting director of OMB, said in a March 31 memo.”

However, as Doug Gaines mentions in the article:

"OMB states boldly that the new annual portfolio review process will 'ensure that any inertia, which would relegate the federal government to the status quo, be rooted out on a recurring basis.' But the Clinger-Cohen law set out to address many of the same issues in 1996, and the pace of progress has been glacial in the following years," Gaines noted.

"Perhaps growing budget austerity will be the catalyst for real change," he said.

Zerowait has been providing outstanding service and support to Government agencies for most of our 23 years in business, over the last 15 years our business with Federal, Military, and State IT groups has grown to about 15% of our annual business. As budgets tighten the government organizations we deal with are keeping their equipment longer and are looking for affordable high reliability service and support. And they know they can depend on Zerowait's affordable high availability alternative to expensive OEM service support programs.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Focusing on our customers' requirements

Last week I was in North Carolina visiting customers and at one of my stops our client told me that his NetApp support quote for his 3020 cluster was over $11,000.00 which he thought was ridiculous. He heard about Zerowait from several peers and was interested by what he heard, and so he did some research. His organization is now a customer of ours.

During our conversation he wanted to know about our company, and was surprised to hear that just the week before I was visiting clients in Sydney, Australia. Since 2002 when Zerowait went into the independent service and support business at the request of our NetApp clients, we have grown into a global parts and service business. I believe that the best way to understand your clients' requirements is to go on as many customer visits as you can. I have learned a lot over the years from visiting with our customers, and occasionally the discussions I have result in new products for our customers.

Our SimplStor products were developed based on the input and requests of our customers, and recently a few of our clients have asked us to provide support for other parts of their network infrastructures. Our HD Rail Kits were also developed based on customer input, and these have proven to be very handy for our customers with constantly growing infrastructures.

Zerowait's customers know that they can depend on our team to come up with solutions to their problems. And we are helping our clients meet their goals from our offices in around the world.