Over the last few weeks I have been visiting with customers in the Southwest. The common theme of the meetings since the beginning of January has been that it is very hard to make strategic decisions on long term storage requirements when your hardware and software vendors are working with very short product and support life cycles. Since Zerowait is in the legacy support business for NetApp equipment I get into a lot of very interesting discussions of how companies can make plans for archival storage in such an environment.
One of the customers I spoke with last week compared the product life cycles of NetApp’s products to the shelf life of a banana. We laughed at the comparison but it’s not far off. We have many customers who live in a regulatory environment where their storage has to be immediately accessible for decades. Over time these regulations have enormous costs in both time and money to ensure that the storage is available and that the networks are well-documented. One of our Radiology customers informed me that typically the images are reviewed a few times in the first 90 days, but must be kept spinning for 21 years. His question is how many storage platform manufacturers around today are going to be supporting their equipment and proprietary software two decades from now? And government regulations for the Tobacco industry require data accessibility for perpetuity.
These compliance storage requirements are seeping into other business sectors and the unintended consequences are going to cost companies a lot of money in managing archival storage. One of our Oil and Gas customers has taken the approach that proprietary storage software is time-limited by its DNA in that the software writer has to constantly update their code to stay in business. His approach is open source, which will provide support for legacy software for decades. I think this makes sense, but the process of migrating data between proprietary high availability primary storage resources to high reliability secondary and tertiary storage is still a costly process in time and money–and it will remain one for decades.
It seems that many customers are starting to realize that they need to put their primary storage on systems with the shelf life of a banana, and then migrate their data to a long-term affordable archive solution. Because of our expertise in legacy NetApp equipment and open source storage solutions many of our customers are asking Zerowait to help bridge the gap between the requirements of high availability storage and affordable long term archiving. It is this long-term business support model that led to our SimplStor product, and is only going to grow.