Thursday, December 27, 2012

Customer Designed Storage

Last week I met with a number of our customers in the Boston area and the issues they were dealing with illustrate the problems that many storage administrators have - tight budgets, limited storage capacity for anticipated storage growth and limited staff.

 I met with the team at one of our oldest customers and they are trying to stretch their budget to handle requirements for onsite production and offsite storage. Their FAS3050’s are running fine and still have capacity to handle more storage. There is no budget to upgrade these FAS3050’s as NetApp would like them to do so they are going to keep these high reliability heads running for as long as possible with Zerowait supporting them with parts and service. Additionally, they have been using our SimplStor units for a few years now and find they are an affordable and reliable way to archive, so they are going to use an additional SimplStor as an offsite remote tape replacement.

Another customer I met with has a large user who has recently purchased a large Linux Cluster with projections that it will double its storage requirements in 2013. Additionally, the nature of the modeling requires a lot of writes which slows down the NetApp infrastructure to handle the concurrent demands of VMware and Oracle for their business requirements. During our discussion of options for the big Linux cluster the customer asked if we could build our SimplStor with Solid State Drives. He prefers to work with a company he knows that has been providing service and support for over two decades as opposed to some VC backed Startup Company with no history at all. I told the customer about our new SSD version of SimplStor and how we are carefully rolling it out to select customers to make certain that each unit works flawlessly in their datacenters. Over the holidays our engineers will be working with the customer looking at his logs and discussing his system usage to come up with the best solution. As a service and support business our engineers are encouraged to spend the time to help the customer understand the nature of his bottlenecks and find the best solutions.

 Another Boston customer is in the midst of a corporation wide shift in their data system architecture and needs help moving their petabytes of data to different locations. This is a big job and they want us to help them by providing storage resources and engineers to assist at the various sites.There is storage strategy, logistics, security, and technical expertise needed for this job and our customer knows he can depend on our engineering staff to help them make this big project go as smoothly as possible.

 2012 is ending a lot like it began for Zerowait; helping our customers find affordable solutions to their biggest data storage problems. Zerowait has grown in 2012 and we expect to grow again in 2013, and based on the quotes we have out I think we are going to have a very busy first quarter.

 Thank you all for a great year!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

When Seconds Matter, Hendrick Motorsports Depends on Zerowait Storage Solutions

Applying Storage Technology used in Movie, VFX, and Oil and Gas Exploration Applications to Win Races. Hendrick Motorsports Relies on Zerowait SimplStor for High Availability Data Access.

Wilmington, DE (PRWEB) December 12, 2012

Who wins the race is often decided by hundredths of a second. Great racing teams are dedicated to finding those hundredths in every part in their performance. With all the information recorded at both the race and during development, Hendrick Motorsports understands that data availability needs to be fast and uninterrupted. Zerowait’s storage technology, solutions and support provide them the edge they need to keep winning.

Finding the Elusive Second
Along with all of the performance data gathered by Hendrick Motorsports engineers, they record many aspects of race events to review while searching for ways to improve their track performance. When the team decided that it needed a storage solution for its HD video archives, they knew that Zerowait was working with the leading international companies in the Film and VFX business. Chris Newsome, Operations Manager at Hendrick Motorsports, says, “We’ve been working with Zerowait for the better part of a decade. Their team has relationships in the VFX business, and we knew they understood the required storage technology better than anyone. Zerowait provided us a turnkey, affordable storage solution to handle our fast-growing requirements.”

Matt Cochran, IT Manager at Hendrick Motorsports, added, “Zerowait’s SimplStor is easy to expand and has the performance we need. It allows us to increase performance by simply adding additional memory and NIC (Network Interface) Cards for bandwidth. The engineering team at Zerowait has always been available to help us with our NetApp equipment, and we recognized that with SimplStor Zerowait had put together the winning solution for our High Definition Video archive.”

Designed by Customers
SimplStor was developed based on conversations with large database users, including the Movie, VFX, and Oil and Gas companies who helped Zerowait design the equipment to meet their needs for a dense, affordable and scalable solution with outstanding performance. Offering 68TB in a 4U server and 90TB in a 4U add-on module, SimplStor offers a petabyte of storage in a single rack. When Hendrick Motorsports started to produce their own High Definition Video, they knew they could trust Zerowait for the storage solution they needed while saving their budget for other improvements to their systems.

Backed by Trust
Mike Linett, Zerowait’s President, added, “The Hendrick Motorsports organization and Zerowait have a lot in common. Both are family owned, have grown from ideas into successful companies, and are dedicated to improving performance. We’re proud to be celebrating our 21st year of providing exceptional support and solutions to our customers through open and honest relationships dedicated to their success.”

Headquartered in Wilmington, Del., USA, and with offices around the world, Zerowait is the worldwide leader in independent service and support of NetApp filers. Zerowait solutions include off-lease fully licensed NetApp systems and the new Zerowait SimplStor line of single-name space archive storage. Storage administrators throughout the world rely on Zerowait to provide affordable solutions to the skyrocketing costs of data storage.

Founded by Rick Hendrick in 1984, Hendrick Motorsports has earned more than 200 race victories and a record 10 car owner championships in NASCAR’s premier division, the Sprint Cup Series. The organization fields four full-time Chevrolet teams on the Sprint Cup circuit with drivers Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Headquartered in Concord, N.C., Hendrick Motorsports employs more than 500 people. For more information, please visit or interact on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Keep It Simple Storage

I have met with a lot of customers over the past few years, and after hundreds of customer visits and thousands of phone calls and emails, I think I’ve learned what customers really want from storage. It should be: 1 – Easy to deploy.  2 - Affordable. 3 – Straight-forward to manage.  4 – Uncomplicated to expand.

Why is enterprise storage so hard to deploy and so difficult to migrate data to and from?  A lot of storage issues are caused by patchwork networking and storage protocols that have grown over 20 years into a mix of open source and proprietary solutions. Politicians often say that making laws is like making sausage, and the same can be said for enterprise storage. There is no one ‘right’ answer for all storage as there are so many special requirements and applications. After thousands of conversations with storage engineers and managers I have come to the conclusion that storage is simple to define in the macro environment, but difficult to define in the small, user environment. Whereas the Big Boss views his storage issues as simple to understand, the storage admin experiences a kaleidoscope of complexity. This leads to problems, one of which is that the Big Boss is often confounded by the acquisition costs and ongoing maintenance and management costs of their tier one arrays.

When storage managers try to explain that storage costs can be managed by migrating less critical data and information to less expensive arrays, management gets interested. But who wants to admit that his division’s data is not as important as another division’s data? Of course every bit of every department’s information is mission critical. If it wasn’t, then perhaps their division could be considered not critical--and in today’s economy, who wants to admit to that? The next step in that train of thought is the unemployment line.  Ego and fear play into the cost of storage and therefore every department’s data is mission critical and on expensive tier one arrays.

We all seem to agree that storage should be easy to manage and that Human Nature creates an environment where every department and user thinks their data storage and network access is mission critical.  How, then, can you prioritize resources for users in network and storage environment where everyone wants and requires priority access? The only solution is to get ever faster switches, routers and storage—which, unfortunately in a lot of cases, are not compatible with the existing architecture. This leads to glitches and hold ups in deployment, more headaches for the admin, and the whole storage infrastructure turns into an unmanageable monster, much like Frankenstein—cobbled together from disparate parts.

Then there is expansion. Tier one storage should be easy and affordable to expand, but can’t be because of proprietary software and legacy hardware. Unfortunately, proprietary software and legacy hardware needs to be kept running: data migrations are difficult and costly, something most companies can ill-afford in today’s economy.

Human nature, technological change and proprietary products all conspire to make storage hard to manage and expensive to maintain. Our customers tell me that Zerowait support is the best available and saves them time and money when compared to OEM support. They also tell us that our SimplStor product provides them the flexibility they need at an affordable price point, if they want new equipment. Successful companies will need to master the details of their network and user requirements in an ever growing mesh of complexity.

Zerowait can  help you with this difficult task.