Trust but Verify week – Part 1

Last week while driving between appointments I got some time to think about a statement by NetApp which seems to raise a lot of questions.

“With revenues up 36% over Q3 of last year, and 100 petabytes of storage shipped during the quarter, NetApp is quickly becoming the vendor of choice for enterprise customers’ storage and data management needs.”

Question 1) Can this 100 petabytes be verified by NetApp? Providing a listing of the disks types and quantities sold would be the easist way to verify this claim by NetApp. Currently there is a question as to whether this is raw disk capacity, or was this number the capacity of the filer heads sold ? This can vary a lot since most systems are not sold with the full capacity of drives and shelves.

Question 2) NetApp right sizes disks quite aggresively, what is the capacity of the disks once they are right sized? NetApp should provide a real usable storage number after right sizing so customers can see what the ‘actual raw capacity’ of the storage purchased is, instead of the marketing capacity. If right sizing is 10% of disks for example, NetApp only sold 90 PB.

Question 3) What is the system overhead on the systems sold? Systems sold with large numbers of disks may pay a substatial penalty for the operating system’s overhead and spares allocated. Additionally, RAID DP takes an additional fraction of the raw disk space. If system overhead and Raid DP takes 30% of disk space then 90 PB * (1-.3) = 63 PB . That is still a lot of disk. So why not just talk about usable storage in press releases?

Providing customers and analysts with a verifiable number of disks by capacity and disk type would allow them to check and see what the actual petabytes sold by NetApp was in the quarter. The numbers in the article can mean almost anything and therefore are crying out for verification.

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