Founded in 1991, Zerowait is the largest third party service company providing NetApp (NTAP) support and the creator of the SimplStor product line of affordable big storage solutions.
Zerowait’s core business is its ZPA Zerowait Parts Assurance business which provides customers around the world with outstanding service and support for their legacy NetApp equipment, including its Exception Reporter systems monitoring. Zerowait supports NetApp storage infrastructure in the financial, energy, healthcare and media business sectors.
Background : NetApp is one of the largest data storage providers in the world and the release of their new OnTap 8.2 operating systems has forced many of their customers into a corner. They are now in the awkward position of having to upgrade to the new NetApp architecture or change their storage infrastructure. Whether a customer decides to upgrade or migrate away from NetApp, there is no winning as both options are expensive. Many large NetApp customers are deciding on a third option; the use of third party support to maintain their legacy NetApp equipment while they consider their options for data storage going forward.
Question: How does NetApp’s upgrade to OnTap 8.2 change things for NetApp’s customers?
Mike Linett: NetApp’s customers use a lot of older legacy NetApp Filers to store their secondary and tertiary data. OnTap 8.2 will not allow customers to snapmirror data to systems running older versions of OnTap, forcing them to upgrade to expensive newer systems. Customers are under a lot of budgetary pressure and NetApp is taking away their options. We have had several customers tell us that the upgrades are going to cost about $1 Million per PB, and they are looking for alternatives. As the only international independent service provider customers are contacting us from all over the world.
IT spending is under the budget microscope at many organizations and CFO’s and CIO’s are looking for every way they can to save money. $1 Million per PB for secondary and tertiary data just does not make sense to many organizations, and primary data is not growing as fast as archival data. We are helping customers bend the cost curve down substantially.
Question: What is the primary benefit of NetApp’s OnTap 8.2 OS ?
Mike Linett: From NetApp’s point of view 8.2 offers scale out for performance and capacity, but there are really very few companies in the world that need that level of scaling and the costs are very high. Our customers like the idea of scale out with 8.2 but are wondering why they can’t use their older systems any more. NetApp seems to have forgotten that customers need BOTH affordable and scalable data storage solutions, not EITHER affordable or scalable data storage solutions.
Question: How is NetApp positioned as open source storage solutions continue to take market share?
Mike Linett: NetApp’s software is feature rich, but the costs can make the biggest companies blush. NetApp has a high cost of goods, and an expensive support model. Quite frankly, the value add of NetApp is being challenged daily by open source alternatives that don’t have the high costs of acquisition, maintenance, and software support.
Our SimplStor Platform spans a number of markets from archiving through secondary storage solutions. With our Add on Kits our customers can add flash, solid state and a number of memory options and network options including SAN. We have found that one size does not fit all storage requirements, and so we offer SimplStor Add On kits to our customers who need to tune their storage to meet their unique needs.
Question: What is your forecast for 2014 and 2015?
Mike Linett: Corporate finance is paying a lot of attention to IT spending and in the bigger accounts we meet with the question is typically how can we help cut 30% or more out of their storage costs. When compared to NetApp for support we are typically 50% of their price and our SimplStor acquisition price is about $200K per PB compared to NetApp’s $1000K per PB. So the value add of NetApp is under a lot of pressure right now and for the next few years.
Question: Where does Zerowait go from here?
Mike Linett: Zerowait is adding Field Storage Managers to service our NetApp and SimplStor customers around the world, and our international growth over the last few years has been phenomenal. We expect our international and domestic commercial business to continue to grow as more customers need affordable, scalable storage options.
In addition, we are going to increase our concentration on the Federal space and are in the process of releasing a GSA schedule. The Federal government spends a lot of money on storage, and Zerowait can help them save our money. Storage is only going to grow, and Zerowait can help the government control the cost of that growth, just as we have been doing for the private sector.