Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Nuts on the Fence

Have you ever noticed that when you focus on the details of an issue that you often loose focus on the big picture, and when you focus on the big picture you end up not getting the whole story?  We all make decisions and prioritize based on the way we filter data to meet our own particular view of reality. In making our strategic business decisions at Zerowait we try to get as much information from our customers, employees, and vendors as we can, and then if needed ask our attorney, insurance broker and accountants for their advice.  Business decisions depend on a lot of factors.  Our successful customers do the same thing.

Recently we worked with an energy resources company on taking over their support services for their NetApp equipment.  We had been working with them for many years on support of various parts of their NetApp infrastructure, and they liked working with our engineers. NetApp tried to force them to upgrade to cDot and they could not see any advantage to the upgrade.  Plus, they had quite a lot of legacy equipment working in tandem with current equipment.  So when it came time to get a support renewal, NetApp’s quote was an Excel nightmare.  Certain shelves renewed for the one month until their EOS date and then were dropped off, while other parts went for the full year.  Understanding the NetApp quote was almost impossible. Whether you focused on the details or the total it just did not make any sense.  It certainly was not customer-friendly. Our team, on the other hand, focused on what he customer wanted—support for all of his equipment for the full year--and we built a policy that reflected his needs and budget.  After we won the deal, we learned that NetApp contacted the customer to ask why he selected a third party support company.  We don't know what the customer told NetApp, but it must have been interesting!

Speaking of interesting, just this morning I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about some of the issues with Cloud computing.  Many of our customers like the idea of getting rid of capital expenditures and outsourcing parts of their infrastructure, but when you focus on the details your need to be aware of the Cyber liability risks and ask your insurance carrier what is covered and what is not. And then you have to find a carrier that will cover the risk that you want to take by outsourcing your data and data infrastructure.
When we did this for our own internal systems, the research took a year, and we reviewed the policies with our lawyer and our engineering team to see how we could make sure we met the coverage requirements and kept our data secure.  The Wall Street Journal article points out that the savings may be illusory and that more investigation may be needed before jumping in.

“When on-demand enterprise applications emerged about a decade ago, they were touted as a cheap and more flexible alternative to buying software outright—a move that comes with upfront infrastructure and licensing costs, on top of ongoing fees for maintenance, support and upgrades. But in practice, these promises have been hard to fulfill.”

Outsourcing business critical data services is a risk that many of our customers don’t want to take.  But with budgets tight and compliance and data sovereignty rules getting tougher it is hard to keep all the resources you need inside the corporation.  Costs are driving data to outside sources.  If you focus only on the details of capex costs of storage you risk opening yourselves up on the limits of your cyber liability insurance and different nations' rules over data sovereignty. Do you focus on the nuts or the fence?

A few weeks ago we were at the SEG show in New Orleans.  The takeaway: The Oil and Gas sector is tightening their belts.  We spoke to a lot of folks about how we could help them maintain their NetApp Legacy equipment and also how we could use our SimplStor to help them reduce their infrastructure costs.  Many of the technical folks we talked with are going to be at the Super Computer show in Austin next week and we will be there because we are trying to help our clients balance their requirements of data storage, security, and costs. It seems that Zerowait has the unique ability in the industry to focus on what is important to our customers. And that is why we continue to grow.