Last week I was in Phoenix and Tucson visiting some of our customers and trying to help them solve their storage issues. A subset of our customers has instituted video monitoring of their premises for a variety of reasons. Many of these folks start by pointing their cameras data at their NetApp Filers as a simple way of storing data, but as the data collection increases over time they find that using Filers as a video vault is expensive.
Over the last few months we have been working with an increasing number of clients to help them implement our SimplStor hardware as an affordable video vault solution. SimplStor provides an affordable solution for video archiving, and easily scales up as customer storage requirements grow, and so our customers are migrating their secondary data from their Filers to SimplStor, this allows their Filers to serve up VM’s and databases and other priority jobs without forcing them to upgrade to the latest and most expensive NetApp equipment.
As the economy continues to muddle through with a moribund 2% growth rate IT departments need to find ways to handle their data storage requirements on a budget. Zerowait has the expertise and experience to help customers maintain their legacy NetApp equipment and also assist them in their data migrations of secondary storage to lower cost mass storage solutions like SimplStor.
In many organizations Storage is growing but budgets are not. How are you going to provide your organization’s growing storage requirements without breaking your budget with equipment from the big OEM’s? Zerowait has the answer.
This week Zerowait received the Exporter of the Year award. It was a great event and it was an interesting evening meeting other award winners and listening to their business histories and stories. The common thread of the evening was that people can have a dream and build a business through hard work and dedication to providing their customers outstanding service and support. In Zerowat’s case the business has expanded internationally over the past two decades thanks to the support of our customers and our growing team of employees.
Zerowait’s team is working on several new initiatives this year to expand our product line to provide our growing customer list the service, support, and hardware solutions they need for their ever growing storage requirements. And as you can see from my recent posts there are customers for Zerowait equipment all over the world.
Our business is growing and in the next few weeks we will be crisscrossing the country visiting customers throughout the USA. The next big event we will be attending is the RedHat event in Boston. I hope to see you there.
If you are interested in the speech I gave at the awards banquet here is the link.
Last week I was in Greensboro and Charlotte, NC visiting with customers who are working on coming up with a reliable and affordable archival storage solutions for day to day usage and also for their disaster recovery solutions.
One customer I met with is a Zerowait SimplStor user and a NetApp support customer of ours. We have been supporting their NetApp equipment for many years, and when they needed an archival solution they chose our SimplStor equipment. We spoke mostly about how to implement scalable storage solutions that will have a service cycle in excess of five years. This customer is tired of the three year forced upgrade cycles that the box selling manufacturers seem to always be pushing. In today’s tighter financial environment there is not budget for three year upgrade cycles. That is a message I have heard a lot over the last couple of years.
Another customer I met with wanted to build his Disaster Recovery solution with homogeneous equipment to what he has in their primary data center. His NetApp salesman will not sell him legacy equipment as the salesman wants him to upgrade both facilities. To put it politely, that isn’t happening with this year’s already stretched IT budget. We discussed the needed speeds and feeds, capacity, and growth and came up with a rough idea that will allow our engineers to put together an affordable homogeneous long term solution that will scale with their growth.
At Zerowait we have a lot of practice in finding affordable solutions for companies. The easiest solution may be to buy new equipment from a single vendor, but that usually costs a lot of money. The best solution is often one that uses a combination of equipment along with a set of proven procedures to help you make a safe landing every time. If you are looking for an affordable storage or archival solution why not give us a call?
Last week I was in New York City visiting with customers who are trying to figure out how to affordably manage their vast and growing data archives. They have tried a variety of solutions from start ups and established vendors but nothing seems to solve the problems of data storage and management in a way that they need to. They use NetApp for their tier one storage and have a home built archival solution which is reliable and affordable, but not a great long term strategic storage solution.
Our customer likes the reliability of their NetApp equipment, but it is hard to justify the cost of support and license renewals. Zerowait can provide off lease NetApp filers to them with transferable licenses and additional storage for their filers to reduce their costs, and like so many of our commercial customers they have to find a balance that provides them the NetApp licenses along with the storage from Zerowait that works for their Tier one storage. Commercial customers are looking to trim any operational expenses they can while maintaining the reliability they need.
A lot of our customers have built secondary and tertiary storage solutions on their own, and I always enjoy conversations with customers that have done this to learn how they chose the combination of Operating systems, file systems, disk drive types, and a cornucopia of other choices that have to be made to create an affordable storage solution that is adaptable and supportable into the future. The issues of sparing, support, and patches typically become problematic as the months and years tick by. SimplStor came about because some of our NetApp support customers recognized that they needed an affordable archive alternative, but they recognized that they could not support the product for the 5 year term themselves. Out of that idea, a niche storage product was born and now it is an international success story.
Our New York customer is an innovator like many of our customers, and they have some great ideas on how to manage their storage issues. Balancing end user requirements with the limitations of networks and storage management can create some interesting one off solutions to problems. But looking into the future our customers realize that they need a partner that understands storage and networks and is looking for affordable ways to help them achieve their long term goals. Does your organization have a storage strategy on how it is going to support its current infrastructure in three years? Or are you going to simply select the most expensive solution offered by your current supplier? Zerowait can help.
This week I was visiting some of our North Carolina customers. Our customers have some pretty diverse business models, but one thing they all have in common is the desire to cut the costs of their operations to increase their profit margins. Only the government considers a slowdown in the rate of the increase in expenses to be a cut.
I heard a number of times this week that Zerowait is helping our customers meet their goals. Our staff is dedicated to customer support and we listen to what are customers are saying so we can provide solutions that answer their specific needs. We can usually meet or exceed the service levels that our competitors are providing while offering significant savings. For example, when it comes to Archival storage a lot of our customers are very satisfied with using their legacy NetApp equipment for their tier 2 and tier 3 archival needs. Our savvy customers recognize that their legacy NetApp equipment is not suddenly less reliable just because a new model is out. They recognize that purchasing new equipment for archival solutions is cost prohibitive and if they can maintain their older NetApp equipment it will work perfectly well for their archival needs. And the savings can be applied to other IT priorities in today’s always stretched budget. For these Zerowait customers, our service and support provides a real value easily calculated as the savings over new equipment and migration costs.
One of the customers I visited is using LUSTRE in a big storage environment. In their case they don’t need high performance; they just have a lot of data. SATA drives are fine and they use massive arrays of inexpensive disks to build out their environment. They were one of the customers who helped us put together our SimplStor product, and they are always doing something interesting that is pushing the boundaries. I learn something every time I visit them, and this week’s visit was no exception.
It’s clear that the amount of data being generated continues to grow, even as companies find it harder and harder to delete anything, whether for regulatory, legal or business reasons. Whether the solution is repurposing your older NetApp systems, or moving to SimplStor for low cost, highly dense disk archive, Zerowait provides the most cost effective solution. Please give us a call so we can help you implement the best solution for your archive requirements.
Last week I was in the DC area visiting with customers and I met with a company that is trying to build an affordable and scalable data infrastructure that can be collocated in N+1 data centers to provide fault tolerant delivery services. Using virtualization technology, global load balancing and NAS storage they are trying to build an adaptable infrastructure that offers several advantages over their competition.
Their challenge is that they need to build a test rack with servers, switches, storage and components and debug the infrastructure before they send it to their remote collocation centers. They asked our engineers to help them specify the components, build out the architecture and help them with testing and debugging. They have also asked for our help with shipping and the logistics of getting equipment to the right place so that the data transitions can be accomplished without any downtime.
I also visited a large federal government agency that is a customer and is trying to figure out how to get by without overspending their sequestered budget. As an old customer they recognize that Zerowait can save them an enormous amount on their NetApp support and we joked that if the Government simply switched their NetApp support to Zerowait’s affordable support they could probably keep the Blue Angels flying.
Government moves slowly, but Zerowait is continuing to grow in the Federal sector and just like commercial businesses sooner or later government agencies will need to find a reliable and affordable support alternative to the outrageously expensive OEM support models.
Data storage continues to grow, and as the costs of storage continue to grow, more and more customers are looking to Zerowait to help them stretch their storage budgets. It has been a very busy first quarter, and I expect the rest of the year to be busy also.
Last week I was in Dallas, TX visiting with customers and I learned about the challenges faced by a company trying to deal with a combination of HIPAA, FIPS, and PCI compliance. Zerowait has a variety of scalable and affordable storage solutions and the performance of our storage is quite good. The issue is how to affordably comply with regulations that are not clearly written or understood on security. For a company stuck in the middle the only option is to find a solution that can address all three types of compliance and then figure out how to do it affordably.
Coincidentally, this morning in Wilmington, Delaware I was at a round table discussion with Senator Carper who is the chairman of the US Senate’s Homeland Security Committee and the issue came up in his remarks and I asked a couple of questions about the cost of compliance for the business community and the lack of clarity on the requirements. Cyber security is on everyone’s radar but the unintended consequences of the regulatory environment are not well understood. And the challenge for businesses is: Since the government regulation and rule making process is deliberately ponderously slow, how can a company’s engineers quickly stop a cyber attack while waiting to figure out how to comply with government regulations that have yet to be finalized?
During the meeting in Dallas we discussed file systems and archival retention policies, and how to apply encryption that would meet or exceed the government’s regulations without breaking the storage budget. Our engineering manager had researched options and the customer’s engineers were also well-versed in the different issues concerning encryption and retention policies. Together we think we came up with an affordable solution which would address all of the regulations that must be complied with.
The biggest problem the customer is dealing with is regulatory uncertainty. Without clarity the choices are limited to finding a solution that is adaptable to changing requirements and not locked into any one encryption solution. On our staff we have an Air Force Veteran who uses the phrase “no plan survives contact with the enemy”. As we go into the future we need to make encryption decisions that are adaptable and agile enough to protect data, while meeting uncertain and changeable regulations.
A company can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on firewalls, intrusion detection systems and encryption and other security technologies, but if an attacker can call one trusted person within the company, and that person complies, and if the attacker gets in, then all that money spent on technology is essentially wasted.
Last week I was in Phoenix, AZ visiting with customers and I learned a lot about how the dynamics of video surveillance are changing and how our SimplStor products are becoming the solution of choice in this market segment.
One of our customers is looking for a solution for long term archiving of video data. The big storage OEMs are trying to convince them to use a cloud storage solution. Our customer noticed that in the cloud all storage is generic and is wondering why one OEM’s storage solution in the cloud is any better than any other. The customer recognizes that the big arrays are all filled by drives manufactured by Hitachi or Seagate in the OEM’s systems and since they are not using most of the features in cloud archival storage our customer is wondering why they should pay the cost delta for the tier one storage for archival storage in the cloud.
Another customer is looking at recording local video and wants an affordable month long video vault for their surveillance requirements. They have tried other vendor’s storage solutions and their needs don’t fit the big OEM’s standard solutions. Since SimplStor was designed to be adaptable to our customer’s requirements it is fairly easy to increase our memory or make small changes to meet our customers’ requirements.
Business in Phoenix is increasing for Zerowait SimplStor in Phoenix as customers are looking for adaptable and affordable storage solutions for their video requirements. Interestingly, we are also seeing an increase in this business niche in our Australian division. Outstanding support and an affordable quality storage solution seem to be a winning combination for customers around the globe.
Providing outstanding service and support to customers requires constant attention to detail. Zerowait’s staff is dedicated to our customers’ success and last week our engineering staff got complimented from a customer in Australia on the quality of our service and the dedication of our engineering staff to solving problems. Often our staff has to weigh the risks of a change against the advantages of the change for the customer and we do this based on past experience, and the benefits to the customer.
The technical expertise that our staff possesses was acquired by years of learning on the job, but it also requires a record keeping system that is flexible and adaptable to the changing requirements of our business. We built our own systems over the last two decades to manage our customer’s contracts, inventory, production, and engineering tickets. As our business has grown the databases and programming time have increased and now we are looking to add programmers to our staff to handle these critical aspects of our business. Our customers require our staff to be able to access their technical and contractual information with a few clicks of the keyboard or mouse. So we are looking for folks that can be part of our team which is dedicated to providing our customers perfect service. We want someone who can think outside the box, and yet create a bulletproof and adaptable program that provides Zerowait competitive advantages.
This week I traveled to Austin, TX to meet with a customer and I learned some interesting information on how they are managing their data explosion with new file systems and the issues they are running into. It was the first time I had run into BTRFS in a production environment. I have been watching the evolution of BTRFS for quite a while and I am very interested to see how it works in their environment. These folks are technologically savvy, and they recognize that they are accountable for making certain that their own customer’s service is not interrupted. They were confident of their systems and choice of their File System.
Everybody measures their own risk tolerance a little differently. At Zerowait everyone understands that we are accountable to each other and our customers. I remember in 2006 when we started to expand globally I was warned about the risks involved in global expansion. It seemed worth the risks to me. And yet, in order to provide perfect service to our customers we rely on proven technologies and file systems based on our engineering team’s recommendations. Are file systems more risky than international travel, or a custom built CRM system to Zerowait’s business continuance?
It is interesting how we all measure risk every day in the different aspects of our lives.