Does a NetApp cDot upgrade make sense for you?

wikibon  - Mode-7toClusteredONTAPChartMany of our customers are still trying to answer this question and I have had quite a few of our customers send me links to the WikiBon report This report, written by David Floyer, does a very good job of providing an overview of the costs of an upgrade, the risk associated with a data migration, and the performance problems of NetApp’s WAFL architecture in today’s high write and bandwidth intensive environment.

Wikibon“The breakeven for most migration projects from ONTAP 7-Mode to Clustered ONTAP are poor at over 50 months – the Internal Rate of Return (IRR) is anemic at 12% or lower.” With the economy expected to grow by only 2%, finding extra corporate funds to upgrade is going to be difficult. Zerowait offers many options to maintain your NetApp equipment on a budget long beyond NetApp’s artificial end of life; we are still providing hardware support for NetApp 700 series systems which were sold at the turn of the century.

Wikibon – “The current systems of record should not be converted to other platforms, as this is both costly and risky.” In a slow growth economic environment many of our customers find it difficult to add staff, and it is going to be hard to convince the CFO that a risky data migration requiring extra personnel makes business sense. Zerowait’s technical support engineers are NetApp trained and certified, and we are the recognized experts at maintaining legacy NetApp architectures. Zerowait’s NetApp support business continues to grow because customers are risk averse, especially when they have tight budgets.

Wikibon“NetApp’s WAFL architecture is not well suited to high-write and high bandwidth workloads.” Many of our customers are looking to offload the data streams that NetApp is ill-suited to handle. Using our SimplStor storage products—a flexible, reliable and affordable alternative—as a complementary storage platform allows System Administrators to tier non-critical storage, the first stepping stone toward building the flexible private cloud that is required by today’s bandwidth intensive compute and write applications.

David Floyer and the Wikibon team have put together an excellent report that we recommend to our customers who are looking to assess the risks and high costs of data migration that NetApp cDot requires. Zerowait has answers to many of the issues that the report clearly defines and describes. I recommend that you read this report and jot down your concerns before you meet with your NetApp sales team when you are negotiating for the best price at the end of NetApp’s quarter.

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Zerowait Welcomes Tom Heubner

TomBlogZerowait Corporation is pleased to welcome Tom Heubner as VP of Sales in EMEA. Tom will be working out of our Manchester offices and is available to talk to you about all your requirements for support, service and upgrades of your Legacy NetApp equipment.

Zerowait has been providing service, support and upgrades for NetApp customers since 1998. From small shops to Fortune 500 companies, Zerowait helps companies improve the ROI on their NetApp investment, providing support for NetApp products beyond the warranty for as long as the client needs. Not ready for cDOT? Need a few more years from your FAS3240? We provide an affordable support option to extend the life cycle of NetApp storage.

If the global business slowdown is crimping your storage budget and you need to extend the life cycle of your NetApp storage, Zerowait can help. Our NetApp certified engineers provide support for hundreds of clients around the world, and we can help you maintain your storage without breaking your already strained budget.

Contact Tom at Zerowait Europe
Tel: +44 (0) 800.121.801
Dir: +44 (0) 161 641 7237
Fax: +44 (0) 161 0051

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National Association of Broadcasters Show Customer Appreciation Dinner

VegasBlog2Over the last few weeks I have been traveling throughout Australia and New Zealand visiting our customers, many of whom are in the Movie, Gaming and VFX business sectors. I’ll see some of them again next week in Las Vegas at the NAB show where we can catch up with many of our North American, European and Australasian customers in one place. For the last few years we have been having a dinner party at NAB so we can catch up with our customers and they can catch up with old friends while discussing common business and technology issues.

As we sit down to dinner there are always a few new folks joining us, and we introduce them to everyone and tell them how we met and then we start to see who knows who. Usually it turns out that it is a very small world; even with people living and working on other continents they’ve often heard of each other, met each other on various web sites or share common friends.

As the appetizers are finished, drinks refreshed and dinner served, our conversation is usually taken up by war stories of our customers dealing with vendor issues and laughter about how things can go so bad, so quickly, because of miscommunication of vendor support policies.  It often seems that our competitors put revenue before relationships and so they lose their customer’s trust. In the storage business if you can’t trust your supplier in the short term are you going to trust them with your archival storage for the long term?  Our customers tell us that frankly they want a long term storage partner that will work with them in their business cycle, and not a storage and support vendor who is looking to increase revenue by artificially shortening their equipment’s life cycle or ending software support.

As we finish our main course and review the dessert menu, the conversation turns to plans for the rest of the year and interesting projects and technologies that we have run into at the show. There are always a couple of really cool new things that most of us will be drawn to, and as we chat about how we can integrate them into our Network infrastructure we are enjoying our dessert and the last of our drinks, before we say good night and promise to catch up again next year.

We always have a great time, and really appreciate our guests joining us at our dinner parties.  After more than 20 years in the ever changing world of high tech, we know that long term, trusting business relationships are the most valuable assets of our company. We’ll be hosting dinners like this at other trade shows this year and we hope you will join us. If you want to join us at NAB just let us know so we can add you to our reservation. We hope to see you there!

Click Here If You Would Like To Join Us



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Is Your Current NetApp Good Enough Technology?

PennyTire3Let’s start here:  Your NetApp hardware is working fine (as usual), but your NetApp sales rep is proposing a 400% increase in support costs anyway.  And, of course, the alternate proposal is an upgrade to a new cDot system, which will involve a risky migration and possible down-time.  Even if you liked those options, based on corporate belt tightening and the financial news your team is reading, neither of these is going to happen.  Your boss wants to know who can afford to pay these support or upgrade costs in today’s economy, and asks why simply extending the service life of exceptionally stable, but older equipment should explode his operational budget to smithereens.

We hear stories like these from many of our customers and below are three solutions we have recently provided.

In the first case, a large international resources company with NetApp Filers all over the world wanted to keep their filers, but NetApp’s support costs were too high.  The folks at the company called their peers at other companies and found out that Zerowait could provide international support at a fraction of NetApp’s prices.  Moveover, the references they checked told them Zerowait support was often better than the OEM’s–who seemed to be cutting back on support staff and raising its prices simultaneously.  The customer brought this to the attention of their NetApp rep, NetApp blinked, and told the customer that they didn’t have to upgrade to cDot after all, and they could reduce their continuing support pricing as well!  The customer wanted to know why Netapp didn’t provide them the option of staying with 7 mode and  lower prices to start with.  <Crickets>.

In our second example, an educational institution that has been using NetApp for many years instituted a campus wide video monitoring and surveillance system with hundreds of cameras and a long retention period.  The amount of storage it requires is eating up their expensive NetApp disk fast.  The thing is, the data is only accessed occasionally, but when it is needed it is needed quickly.  So they needed a solution with Good Enough Technology that was affordable with reasonable performance, and NetApp was not the answer.  Zerowait’s SimplStor was the answer.  It is reliable, scalable and affordable.  Better yet, SimplStor is supported by the same Zerowait engineering team that they had been relying on for years for their legacy NetApp equipment.

Finally, a large Biotech company that was an old Zerowait NetApp support customer from years past had switched to another array vendor for storage.  After repeated failures with the new equipment, they called us for assistance to put their mothballed NetApp equipment back in service for a three to six month interim solution while they determined what they should invest in next.  Within 48 hours, we helped them transition back to their Good Enough Technology older NetApp and today we are helping them evaluate their options to move forward.

Speaking of moving forward, I’m going on the road again!  Over the next three weeks, I will be visiting our growing list of clients in Australia and New Zealand. Then, during the week of April 18th the Zerowait team will be at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in Las Vegas, and we will be having our annual dinner party there for our customers and friends. It seems that no matter where they are or what industry they are in our customers are looking for more solutions to their storage cost control issues.  And Zerowait has the answer.

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5 Star NetApp Storage and Support on a 2 Star Budget

sqeezeNetAppA lot of our customers are being forced to reduce their storage budgets because of the poor/uncertain profit picture caused by globally volatile finance and markets. Although their budgets are being squeezed their requirements for high availability and additional storage resources continue to grow. Our savvy customers are finding ways to grow their storage infrastructure while reducing their support costs because with Zerowait as their partner they can dance to the beat of a new budget drumbeat without missing a step.

Recently I was visiting a customer in Oklahoma that is trying to match the requirements of growing regulatory and insurance requirements for onsite storage requirements with a budget that is being reduced because of the drop in Oil prices. The engineer I was meeting with mentioned that no matter what the market conditions are their storage requirements continue to grow and there is now no way that they can afford either new equipment or costly OEM support. By switching their support to Zerowait from NetApp, and by adding storage to his NetApp controllers with NetApp equipment from Zerowait, he was saving enough money to maintain his engineering staff and increase his storage even though his budget has been reduced.

While I was in Denver I met with a customer that complimented our engineering staff for solving some NetApp performance problems. The engineering manager and his staff had spent countless hours being shuffled around through NetApp’s support organization without a solution other than to upgrade their Filers. Upgrading their Filers and migrating to cDot was simply not in the budget. Working with Zerowait’s engineers the performance problems were quickly solved and by adding off lease storage to his current NetApp controllers he was able to meet the demands of his growing exploration and log files while maintaining his restricted budget

When I was in New York City with one of our engineering managers I met with a customer at a financial organization that had heard about our reputation and decided to try us out to see if we could help him solve his NetApp performance problems. After a couple of months of working through a few of their issues, the manager decided that our engineers were so good that he wanted to know if we could remotely manage and maintain his systems, since that is what we were doing anyway. We had a discussion about his environment and his growth expectations. Together we determined they really did not need a full time storage administrator and only required between 5 and 15 hours a week of support. He was able to get engineers with NetApp certifications and experience to manage his storage for less than it would cost him to hire a full time inexperienced sysadmin that would need to be trained in storage and NetApp.

As the business world gets more volatile storage budgets are getting more constrained and experienced storage engineering staffs are having to find ways to accomplish their goals by increasing the service cycle of their storage equipment while maintaining or reducing their employee costs. As a trusted partner with a staff of certified, trained and experienced NetApp engineers we look forward to working with you to provide the services and storage you need at prices that fit today’s cautious budgets.


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Make No Changes

“Those that Make No Changesknow don’t speak, those that speak don’t know” is an expression I hear often from engineers when we are discussing their legacy network and storage infrastructure. The New Year came in with a bunch of economic surprises and many of our customers are working under a new budget which includes no new equipment purchases. I was corresponding with a customer this week and he is working under a strict guideline that permits no changes to his NetApp storage systems.

The folks that have told the engineers that there will be no changes, don’t seem to realize that the firmware and software on the networks and equipment are being updated regularly to comply with insurance business continuity rules and best practices. Often when data fails to process, the engineers are tasked with tracing packets to find out what is going on, and it is always an emergency. If they speak up they are told there is no budget to replace the infrastructure and they must find a way to make it work. The rickety networks continue to get patched and the engineers know they need hardware support and experts on call and so they get a Zerowait support policy because they need someone to call when the $h!t hits the fan, and they can’t serve data.

Our customers around the world depend on their data infrastructure for their business success and they depend on Zerowait’s engineers’ knowledge and ability to keep their data flowing. Our engineers are NetApp trained professionals and we maintain inventory on three continents to provide our global customers uninterrupted service and support


If your company is under a capital expenditure freeze due to business conditions but you need affordable NetApp support and additional NetApp hardware for your storage infrastructure growth, we hope you will think of Zerowait. At Zerowait we maintain the inventory to support and help you grow your existing NetApp storage. When you know you need storage and support, and it is time to speak up, Zerowait’s engineers will be ready to help you get your data flowing.

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The Future is calling

The Future is calling, they need storage. Zerowait has the answer!

The Future is calling, they need storage. Zerowait has the answer!

2015 was another interesting year in which Zerowait worked with our customers to help them overcome their data storage issues. The majority of our business remains the service and support of NetApp equipment around the world, and we added many new customers this year as the world’s data storage requirements continue to grow. Our SimplStor product line also grew in 2015 and we have many more customers ordering SimplStor configurations which include solid state drives as they are becoming more affordable. SimplStor was designed with the help of our customers to meet their needs, and as their needs have changed over the years they are ordering more of our equipment to meet their storage growth. Below is a link and an excerpt for a press release we did with one of our repeat customers this month on SimplStor.

Mahwah, NJ (PRWEB) December 15, 2015

  DialAmerica, one of the nation’s largest privately held teleservices companies, has completed the installation of additional Zerowait SimplStor storage in their DR center in Athens, GA.

DialAmerica provides telemarketing and teleservices support to banking, finance, healthcare and commercial clients from 21 call centers located across the United States. The firm has found Zerowait SimplStor storage to be a cost effective and reliable replacement for conventional tape libraries. 

 “We installed our first SimplStor archives in 2012, after working with Zerowait for over 10 years,” said Gerhard Lindenmayer, Information Security Officer at DialAmerica. “Zerowait’s SimplStor disk archive provides an easy way to reduce cost and complexity while increasing backup and recovery performance. It’s a robust, cost-effective solution with great support behind it.”

 Mike Linett, Zerowait’s President added, “We have been working with DialAmerica for almost 15 years, and have built a great relationship based on honesty and fair prices. Their purchase of additional SimplStor storage is a testament to the value provided by our SimplStor line, and the hard work and great support provided by the team here at Zerowait. We look forward to working with DialAmerica for many more years.”

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The Nuts on the Fence

nutsonthefenceHave 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 and vendors and then ask our attorney, insurance broker and accountants for their advice. Business decisions. 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 s parts of their NetApp infrastructure, and they like working with our engineers. NetApp tried to force them to upgrade to cDot and they could not see any advantage to the upgrade, and when it came time to get a support renewal NetApp’s quotes did not include any way to put their systems and support on a co-terminus billing structure so that all of their equipment would come up for support renewal at the same time. Understanding the NetApp quote was almost impossible. Whether you focused on the details or the total it just did not make any terminus. Our team focused on what he customer wanted and we built a policy that reflected his needs and budget and we won the deal. After we won the deal a NetApp VP contacted the customer to ask why he selected a third party support company. We understand that the customer told the NetApp VP that Zerowait focused on their needs and provided a simple path to meet the company’s performance, support requirements and budget without complexity. Our customers had been testing our support and technical expertise for many years, when it came time to make the move we had already proven that we met their requirements, to win the deal we had to meet our customers’ requirements and formulate a solution to meet their needs.

Just this morning I was reading 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 issues your need to be away 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. The research took us 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 need to be fully investigated.

“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, so 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 the 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 Oil and Gas business is tightening their belts and we were talking 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.

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Express train to Flexible Opex

Express Ticket window

Express Ticket window

I spent the last week in Australia visiting some of our customers and our business partners at Forum Group in Sydney. Our customer base in Australia continues to grow and we are now working with many different business segments. The folks at Forum Group started out as a customer of ours but we noticed that we were doing business with many of the same customers in closely related business segments, so it just makes sense to work together. Forum Group has NetApp equipment and we provide them support on their infrastructure and they also are using our SimplStor in their cloud offering for customers. Over the last few years Theo Popescu, the Forum Group CTO has become a friend of ours and a trusted business partner, he wanted to add to the discussion we have been having on our blogs about some of the things we are working on and our question and answers are below:

Question 1)  What do you like about working with the Zerowait team and how does it help your customers?

Answer 1) In our modern world of online & self serve it can often be very difficult to find a partner that is willing to go the extra mile and be quick to respond when things go wrong. Zerowait do not only surpass expectations for Forum and our Australian customers but do so from the other side of the world. I don’t know of many partners where the President is so attentive and accessible as Mike is at Zerowait. The net result is our customers receive a premium level of solutions and support they otherwise may not receive elsewhere.

Question 2)  How does SimplStor fit into your product offerings?

Answer 2) Customers always face an interesting challenge it’s time to review their need for disk storage, be it a green field implementation or an upgrade path from an EOL legacy system such as NetApp7. Usually they tend to side with the options they’re used to because it’s what they know. The adage “you don’t know what you don’t know” certainly rings true which is why when educated on the quality, functionality and most certainly the unrivaled cost of a SimplStor solution it quickly becomes the preferred option especially when coupled with renowned Zerowait support.

Question 3) Can you explain how your Flexible OPEX works? And how it helps customers who are migrating storage.

Answer 3) Let’s analyse the aspects of conducting a storage migration project. You have you legacy storage which until decommissioning will need to have support, capital outlay for the new hardware to be implemented, the migration which with a certainty will run twice as long to conduct then as planned due to unforeseen circumstances, professional services for assisting or conducting the entire migration which rise as the project endures delays, then finally support for the new platform ongoing.

There are variable costs associated each of these segments. What if there was a way to provide a plan that combined all of the aspects of the migration under an overarching umbrella at one single Flexible OPEX cost per month, is that something worth investigating?

Here’s how the new world migration looks under the Flexible OPEX model where hardware, software, professional services and support are included in a fixed monthly cost over a 5 year period. You receive support for your legacy storage whilst the migration plan is hatched. The hardware is delivered at the time as per the planned implementation which could be in the 1st, 5th or any years in between as delays to the project blow outs have no monetary impact. The entire migration has already been included as has the corresponding professional services whenever they are utilised. Once migration has been completed support is transferred to the new production equipment with decommissioning, removal and destruction conducted on the old. The real power is that at any stage the Flexible nature of our OPEX agreement means we are able to add or modify the equipment without penalty over the term because in reality if your business doesn’t change in 5 years you probably won’t have a business.

With noncapital outlay, cash flow is maximised and opportunity cost is minimised, professional services fees are fixed while support is maintained throughout. Forum and Zerowait, in partnership, have laid the tracks for the express train to storage migration, don’t get stuck with an all stops ticket.

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Is the next station ZFS?

TracksTrainEffrem Norwood is a good friend of mine and one of the smartest and most capable folks I know in the storage business. I have known Effrem for over 15 years and we have a lot of technical discussions about storage and he often talks with our engineering team about things we are working on. When we were initially designing our SimplStor unit in 2008 Effrem Norwood helped us with the design and testing. He has been working on a special ZFS / Solaris installation for the healthcare business for a few years and has over 10 PB running on a version of our SimplStor hardware. It is a pretty impressive solution set and quite affordable for customers that are not going to upgrade to cDot, but want a powerful and adaptable solution with affordable hardware and software support. We are working with Effrem’s team at BlueRing to help our customers who want the features and benefits of ZFS without the hassle of constant upgrades from a hardware manufacturer. Several of our customers are interested in ZFS as an alternative to migrating to cDot, and below are the 3 questions that have come up in our conversations with customers and the Bluering answers.

Zerowait Question – Can you please tell us how you came to select Solaris and ZFS as the solution set for your Healthcare customers?

Bluering Answer – ZFS is an incredibly powerful filesystem that provides an unmatched feature set that can be deployed on standards based x86 hardware. Oracle provides world class support for this, making Solaris the obvious choice to supply ZFS. All non Oracle Solaris ZFS implementations are a fork of the last build of OpenSolaris, build 134 and I can tell you, a lot has changed with Oracle Solaris ZFS since then that the open source community just can’t match. There are major data loss issues waiting for people in that old code base. For healthcare applications then, ZFS plus Oracle’s comprehensive support on x86 hardware makes it the best overall choice. As healthcare begins to escape the vendor silos it has been stuck in for years, these customers want reliable, Enterprise class storage at a low price. Zerowait SimplStor and Bluering provides this with demonstrated low risk and best results.

Zerowait Question – Can you tell us why the adaptability of the SimplStor hardware is an advantage for your customers and Folks considering migrating from NetApp rather than upgrading to cDot?

Bluering Answer – Solaris is a complete Unix operating system with ZFS included. This means that for your ZFS deployment, with SimplStor hardware you can scale your in memory cache size (ZFS ARC), solid state tier cache size (ZFS L2ARC) and write cache size (ZFS ZIL) to accommodate your specific use cases. Not only can this be done per workload, it can be done while the systems are in production. You don’t need to try and do one size fits all here. You determine your workload and then implement the system. As things change, you only need to make minor adjustments to low cost hardware to handle more data. It’s an entirely different approach that yields superior results, better performance and low cost.

Zerowait Question – Can you provide the top 3 reasons you chose to market your solution with Zerowait as your hardware platform service and support provider?

Bluering Answer –

  1. Value
  2. Service
  3. Relationships

If you’re going to deploy x86 hardware for storage purposes, it takes a lot to make it work correctly. There is no chance of being successful with ZFS in the Enterprise without having the system be right from day one and there’s a lot to that. Once it’s deployed, having access to fast parts replacement is critical. Without it, even the best initial deployments will fail. When and not if something does go wrong, your vendor has to have the right level of relationships with their vendors to make support fast and reliable. Zerowait has spent years developing those relationships so they are only a phone call away for them. That is so important. Try to call say Seagate yourself for a drive firmware issue. Good luck even knowing that’s what the issue is. And most importantly to us was that we got all of this, the whole package, at a better overall 5 year cost than just the servers from any other vendor.

If you have other questions you would like answered please send them our way. The Blue Ring website is

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