AetherStore v1.2.4: New Add/Remove Feature!

AetherStore v1.2.4 is out now! In addition to UI updates and enhanced stability features, the release is equipped with a new feature that provides even more control over your storage space: the ability to Add and Remove nodes from a Store after you’ve created it.

Benefits of Add/Remove:

The benefits of the new Add/Remove functionality are obvious: add new machines to a Store at any point after it’s been created to increase capacity on the fly. Or, remove machines that you no longer want to use for AetherStore if you don’t need the space. Most importantly, you can do it all without having to recreate your AetherStore drive.

The new functionality also has licensing and payment benefits: it’s easy to swap machines in and out of Stores, so you can add licenses seamlessly whenever you need them, and are never stuck paying for them when you don’t. Add/Remove from an existing Store truly makes storage provisioning concerns a thing of the past.

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Update Now

Add/Remove from an existing Store has been a hotly requested feature from our users. so we’re excited to be rolling it out in v1.2.4! If you’re running AetherStore now, make sure to open your AetherStore Dashboard to update all your AetherStore machines and take advantage of everything v1.2.4 has to offer.

Interested in downloading AetherStore v.1.2.4? Check out our Partner Program to start your free trial.

Want to purchase AetherStore licenses? We’ll put you in touch with an AetherStore Partner:

Optimizing Partner On-Boarding

AetherStore is thrilled to be growing our Partner Program in 2016, and a smooth on-boarding process is vital to setting new Partners up for success. While no two Partners have the same schedule or preferences when it comes to evaluating new products, we’ve gathered their feedback and tested a variety of forms and phone calls to improve the experience. Using the five key findings outlined below, we designed an intake process that gives Partners everything they need to evaluate AetherStore on their own schedule.

Try it out! Step One: Start your AetherStore Partner Trial

  • Partners should be able to access information without waiting on a sales team: Our Partners’ number one priority is providing excellent service to their clients, which means researching new products often fits in after business hours. This became even more apparent when we started noticing a spike in AetherStore introduction calls scheduled on holiday weekends! To accommodate this, Partners can access the software and all educational resources in the portal the moment they sign up – no waiting on a sales team to grant access.
  • Not everyone enjoys phone calls as much as vendors: A phone call used to be a prerequisite for starting an AetherStore trial. For us, it’s still the best way to understand business needs and share our vision for AetherStore. However, for those who prefer working solely over email or through the Portal resources, there’s no mandatory call to begin selling AetherStore. Instead we’ve added a scheduling tool Partners can use to plan a call on their own time. We’ve found both parties get more out of the conversation this way, and we look forward to continuing to speak with each and every one of our Partners!
  • As a vendor we need enough information to perform our own due diligence: All AetherStore Partners become our business Partners. We want to work with those who see the same incredible business opportunity we do in making unused storage a thing of the past. A sign up form enables us to a) ensure inquiries are credible and b) learn enough about each business to provide the appropriate support, marketing and sales information. By entering some essential details to get started, Partners let us know they’re serious about establishing a successful AetherStore business.
  • There has to be a free trial for Partners (and their customers): Free trials have always been part of our sales process. In our earlier days, free trials were a necessity to help educate users about our new technology. Now they’re equally important for Partners, who need to use our product before recommending it to clients. Partners access a 45-day trial immediately when they sign up, which becomes a free NFR copy upon signing our resale agreement. AetherStore Partners also have the ability to generate their own additional, 7-day trial licenses for clients straight through the Partner Portal.
  • Sales minimums shouldn’t prevent anyone from becoming a Partner: Partners can request a reseller agreement as soon as they’re comfortable selling and supporting the product, even if they haven’t made their first sale. Our job is to help Partners build a successful AetherStore business, which means providing access to everything they need to be successful right from the start!

Let us know what you think! Start your AetherStore Partner Evaluation now.

Create a Drive in 5 Steps

You have storage on the hardware you already manage. Turning it into a drive that provides value to your business shouldn’t be complicated.

In this post we outline the five simple steps you can take to pool unused storage in your network into a new, robust storage target. Start by installing AetherStore, then follow along with the step-by-step screenshots below to see how easy it is to create drives on demand.

For a similar guide in video form, watch our AetherStore Setup Demo.

1. Create New Store: Open the Dashboard and select ‘Create New Store’. Choose a name and click ‘Start’. 1-homepage2. Locate Computers & Verify Connectivity: This screen shows all the machines in your network with AetherStore Core installed. Click ‘Verify Connectivity’ to view which machines can talk to each other, then ‘Continue with Largest Fully-Connected Set’.locate verify3. Select Machines to use in your Store: Add any or all machines you would like to use in your Store.4-select4. Configure Store: In this step you’ll select how much space to allocate from each machine and select the mount point.

  • Configure Space: You can customize space per machine using MB, GB or TB, or by allocating a percentage of of the free space on the drive.
  • Set Mount Point: Choose a machine and drive letter to serve as the mount point. This is where you’ll read and write files into the drive. Click ‘Mount on Selected Computer’, then ‘Continue to Deployment’.

5-configure5. Deploy Your Store: You will complete deploying your Store on this page. Select ‘Check Readiness’, ‘Deploy’ and ‘Verify Success’ to ensure your Store has deployed properly. Click ‘Manage New Store’ to view a summary of your new Store. 6-deployCongratulations! You’ve turned the unused space in your network into a redundant, encrypted new drive! View your drive on the mounted machine, and you’ll see the Store looks and functions just like any other drive:

Store Drive_My Computer View
On the Store Summary page, you can view an overview of all the machines in your Store, and change the location of the mount point to access files from a different machine.summaryWant to help your customers create storage on demand? Join the AetherStore Partner Program!

Want to try AetherStore for yourself? Contact a Partner through the form below!

 

The Storage Resource You’re Not Using

When was the last time you thought of a computer workstation as a storage resource?

Workstations typically ship with a minimum of 500 GB storage, yet usage information from AetherStore users proves that, until now, data was stored everywhere except on workstations. It’s not necessarily surprising, as storage trapped on individual drives provides little value; but how much storage is accumulating as a result?

We gathered data from 520 machines running AetherStore, including both workstations and servers, to see just how much office storage was underutilized:

Average % Available Space per Machine: 73%

Average GB Space Per Machine: 352 GB 

Computer w Space

Multiplied by the number of machines in your office, you can imagine how quickly this available storage adds up. In fact, on the 520 AetherStore machines in this data set, there were over 180 terabytes of unused storage space! Imagine how much 180+ terabytes of onsite storage could cost if you had to purchase it outright.

The data makes it apparent just how much storage offices already have when provided the technology to combine and manage it effectively. AetherStore customers in this data set included anywhere between 4 and 65 machines in their deployments, and reclaiming storage resources was surprisingly simple. In fact, the speediest of our users were able to get AetherStore up and running in under eight minutes, creating a multi-terabyte drive in less time than it takes to boil an egg.

Average Number Machines per Store: 9

Average Space Available per Deployment: 3.2 TB

creating store

No matter what size your office is, if you have a few minutes and some workstations you have everything you need to start rapidly increasing usable storage capacity. You’ve already paid for the hardware – now you can finally use your space!

Get in touch with AetherStore and find out how much storage is waiting for you in your own network!

Backup for Disaster Recovery

“Backup storage that just works is my primary goal for getting AetherStore into production.”

– Brant Wells, Wellston Technology

Wellston Technology will deploy AetherStore as a central part of their Backup and Disaster Recovery strategy at a client site with 350 machines, producing storage for redundant backup. Brant Wells, Owner & Lead Technologist, leads the AetherStore implementation.

Existing Pain Points:

“In the past, I have dealt with problems where the backup and storage was consistently requiring maintenance, and unreliable in general.” Often, important data was shipped offsite to remote locations, leaving Brant unsure what was actually backed up and how. His biggest pain points were:

  • Uncertainty and lack of visibility into status of backups
  • Constant maintenance required for existing backups
AetherStore Deployment:

Brant’s first AetherStore installation was a test environment across four nodes, creating a 30GB Store for smaller backup and CD/DVD images. They also have a small set of random software packages available on the Store. Going forward, Brant will expand the size of his Store across more of the 350 client machines to host a much larger backup, and add additional software packages to his Store.

  • Ease of Management: “I was able to install and manage my first Store within minutes after getting the installations done.”
  • Reliability of Storage: “It is nice not to have to worry about losing a node or disk and have it ruin your night’s backups. With AetherStore, we are able to sleep at night knowing we have a good backup storage.”

“The setup process was simple: install the storage package on any number of nodes, and install the Dashboard on one of them. Mount the drive and share it via Windows. I love that I can also push and manage the installations with apps like PDQ Deploy. No muss, no fuss. It just worked!”

Simple Setup

“With AetherStore, we are able to have a reliable storage location for our backups that makes it easy to house backup images and restore from backup when necessary. We don’t have to worry about whether or not the backup will belly-up if we lose a single (or more than one!) hard drive.”

party

SpiceWorld London

We just arrived back in New York after a few days at SpiceWorld London 2014 – we had a blast! If you’re not familiar with Spiceworks, it’s a network management tool for IT Pros, providing everything from network inventory and monitoring to help desk software, mobile device management, cloud detection services and more. The tool itself may be helpful for IT Pros, but the community created by its users, employees, and other tech vendors is what makes a SpiceWorld Conference worth crossing the pond for. Twice a year the Spiceworks online community gathers in-person to swap IT knowledge at breakout sessions, happy hours, and a full-fledged party.

Attendees enjoyed a Spiceworks party Tuesday night sponsored by Microsoft.

Aside from the free drinks (kidding!) the best part of SpiceWorld was getting to speak directly with the IT Pros for whom we’re designing our storage software, AetherStore. We were able to pick their brains about everything from feature requirements to preferred support methods, and can report back to our development team with some invaluable product feedback that’s come straight from the source.

As a vendor we attended breakout sessions where Spiceworks team members shared their expertise and panels of IT Pros explained what gets their attention when it comes to tech marketing. We learned that webinars and podcasts are preferred methods of content consumption, and that whitepapers, while educational, aren’t as widely read as marketers may hope. IT Pros also shared preferred contact methods (unsurprisingly, cold calls were a strong “don’t”), and explained the challenges they’re presented with on a day-to-day basis that make vendor interruptions a nuisance.

A panel of IT Pros answer marketing questions for vendors.

Some of these sales tips may seem like common sense, but hearing them directly from our target customers has sharpened the focus of our marketing plan. As we near the AetherStore launch, the knowledge gained at SpiceWorld London will have a real impact both on the development and sales sides of our product.

If you’re in the enterprise or SMB tech space, it’s hard to find a reason NOT to get involved with the Spiceworks Community. With 15 million IT Administrators as Spiceworks users spending 5.7 Billion active minutes in Spiceworks annually, there’s no other forum exchanging such an expansive collection of IT know-how. And as cheesy as it sounds, Spiceheads don’t just swap knowledge, they share laughs and anecdotes that make the Spiceworks community as enjoyable as it is educational.

A panel of IT Pros answer marketing questions for vendors.

We’re already all set to attend SpiceWorld Austin 2014! We’ll have a booth to exhibit AetherStore and are currently brainstorming some awesome giveaways for the Spiceheads there – any suggestions?

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Start-up Marketing Metrics

Marketing costs money.

The expense is easy to quantify in traditional marketing investments like buying ad space – did the price per inch justify how much it brought you in sales? Newer strategies like inbound marketing can be trickier to measure. They may not require an upfront purchase but end up costing you in the form of an hourly rate on the labor required to execute them. No matter how the bill reads, evaluating a marketing strategy always comes back to its ROI: was what you paid worth the return?

“Return” in this context is synonymous with “Revenue,” which makes this traditional marketing concept difficult when applied to a pre-launch start-up. When revenue is not yet an available metric, how do you evaluate your marketing investments?

Marketing Metrics Without Revenue

We’re trying to answer this question while marketing our storage software, AetherStore, and have been using the number of AetherStore Early Release Signups in place of sales figures. Signing up for early release is as far as potential AetherStore customers can get in our marketing funnel while we’re pre-launch, so for now if a marketing expenditure compels an individual to reach that point it’s been successful.

Having an online signup form makes it easy to differentiate between marketing channels. Through Google Analytics we can pinpoint how our signups found us, for example through organic search, social media, paid AdWords, this blog, etc. To an extent, we can also track the source of leads that sign up after hearing about us offline. For example, we exhibited at NY Tech Day last week and had hundreds of conversations, during which we mentioned and passed out materials promoting an AetherStore URL we had set up specifically for TechDay. Signups that came through that specific form are easily traced back to the event, allowing us to measure the “return” on our time there by counting how many signups it produced.

“Unpaid” Advertising Gets Expensive

This isn’t a perfect metric. One element it doesn’t account for is the quality of signups. We have a small budget for Google AdWords and a number of signups have come through this channel. We don’t spend a lot of money or time (which end up being the same thing) on our paid ads and they continue to produce signups, which makes them a sound investment if we’re looking only at the numbers. Yet, I know the quality of those signups is lower because of the background information provided and the lower engagement rates we have post-signup with these leads.

On the other hand, our signups that find us through social media have been more likely to engage with follow-up contact up and seem to have stronger potential as customers. This is a result that any inbound marketer would have predicted: when someone finds us on social media it’s often because someone they follow has mentioned our brand, so their discovery of AetherStore is like a peer recommendation. It’s more “organic” than what we get from a paid ad. However, just because it’s free to set up a Twitter handle doesn’t mean these leads aren’t expensive. Cultivating the online relationships that produce inbound leads requires an immense amount of time (see: money). All told, they require more resources to generate than the signups that come through our Google Ads.

Thus the problem with using signup numbers as the sole metric in evaluating our marketing efforts: they don’t account for quality. If we invest $1000/month into both mediums and get more signups via Google Ads, ROI favors the ads over social media. In reality, we know social media is probably the better investment.

Quality Over Quantity

The fact that I have to use the word “probably” brings me to the main problem we face evaluating marketing efforts while AetherStore is pre-launch: we can’t assign a dollar amount to an AetherStore Early Release Signup. The ROI analysis depends on both sides of the equation being a monetary value, so it’s simple to see whether the return is high enough to validate the investment. Right now, we can only project how much revenue our marketing investments will bring in based on how we plan to price the software and how many signups we think will actually buy.

We’re banking on the assumption that more signups = more potential customers, but we don’t know with certainty that the number of signups produced by any of our marketing expenditures will produce enough cash to justify the investments. It’s what’s exciting, and most difficult, about marketing at a  start-up: until we can actually calculate ROI by tracking revenue, we’re working with a far more qualitative definition of what constitutes a good “Return” on investment.

 

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NY TechDay 2014

We’re still gathering all of the business cards, free goodies, and great ideas we took away from NY TechDay yesterday, where we exhibited AetherStore and spoke with hundreds of attendees . Pier 92 was packed with tech companies showing off what they’re working on – everything from dating apps to enterprise software. With hundreds of start-ups and over 10,000 attendees, NY TechDay proved there are a lot of exciting things happening in Silicon Alley.

A special congratulations to Atmospheir, an AetherWorks portfolio company that took home the NY Tech Day award for “Best in Social Media.” They’ve built a social address book that’s available for download now!

atmospheir2

We had a blast running the AetherStore booth, where visitors stopped by and learned how to turn unused workstation hard drive space into a valuable storage resource. We even put visitors to work, polling opinions on some AetherStore taglines and other copy to see which marketing materials they preferred. With so many start-up experts in one place, we couldn’t resist a chance to get their feedback.

We didn’t let those that stopped by the AetherStore booth leave empty-handed, though. We came armed with 300 orange donuts and had almost polished off all 25 boxes by the day’s end.

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The AetherWorks team had an awesome time at TechDay 2014. We can’t wait to follow up with everyone we got to connect with there and see what’s next for New York Tech!

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St Andrews Programming Competition Winners

As we recently announced on the blog, AetherStore sponsored the St Andrews Programming Competition 2014 on April 7th at the University of St Andrews. Seventy-five participants including undergraduates, postgraduates, and even staff members competed to solve a series of coding problems in three hours, using a programming language of their choosing. £200 cash prizes were up for grabs in the subhonours, honours, postgraduate, and individual student categories. Congratulations to all the winners!

Overall Champion: 

Head of School: Steve Linton

Postgraduate Champion: 

Team: SKI Instructors (Matus Tejiscak, Christopher Swaab, Adam Barwell)

Postgraduate Runner Up: 

Team: Kmp (Daniela Grijincu, Mihai Pitu, Radu Floroiu)

Honours Champion: 

Team: TwoGingersAndAnAsian (Alex Field, Luke Borwell, Ivan King)

Sub-honours Champion: 

Team: Missionary (Kestutis Vilcinskas, Austeja Elvina)

Sub-honours Runner Up: 

Team: Stack Overflow (Tom Dalton, Emily Dick, Neil Wells)

Best Individual Student: 

Nathan Blades

Here are some shots from the competition:

Congratulations to all of the participants, and thanks to the St Andrews computer science department for putting together a great competition!

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Brainstorming Blog Ideas: Why you probably already have the material you need

“Start blogging.”

It’s probably the number one piece of advice given to marketers looking to up engagement online. If you put out the right content, the right people will find you. Yet companies (us included!) don’t blog as often or as effectively as we’d like because putting out the “right content” is so much easier said than done. We know first-hand it takes time and serious brainpower to identify the topics where your expertise and your audience’s interests intersect.

As a brainstorming tool, I’m breaking down three of the categories that successful blog posts seem to fall into – based on my own experience and other blogs I’ve read. You’re already familiar with the categories, but I’ve included some questions and examples that may be of help if you’re ever asking (like we often are) “What should we write about this week?”

1. The How-To:

There’s nothing like Googling “How to…” to realize that whatever your problem is, you’re probably not the first person to look for an answer to it. Tutorial posts are a no-brainer when it comes to creating content that’s valuable to your audience. We’re a software R&D firm, so some of our most successful posts have been written by our developers detailing solutions they’ve found to particularly challenging or interesting programming problems.

Tutorials don’t need to be advanced. I recently needed to make some changes to our AetherStore brochure in Adobe Illustrator, a few of which required Illustrator skills that weren’t in my wheelhouse. I posed my “How-to” questions to the web and found tutorials that gave me the exact tidbits of advice I was looking for. In this case, I didn’t need an expert’s overview of the software, I needed specific instructions that were actionable for someone of any skill level.

2. Reviews & Comparisons

If a blog’s purpose is to unite your insight with your reader’s interest, a knowledgeable review is a great way to get there. From which software to buy to which conferences to attend, peer opinion carries a lot of weight, specifically when your organization doesn’t stand to benefit from the review. There are few decisions made today that aren’t pre-researched online.

Blog reviews can be even more helpful when they compare two things directly. At various moments we’ve found ourselves deciding between Jira and YouTrack for task tracking, Optimizely and Unbounce for A/B Testing, even Paychex vs. ADP to handle our payroll. We almost always consult blogs that compare and contrast as part of the research we do make an informed decision – as does the majority of the web. If you’re experienced with a product or service or well-versed in how two different ones stack up – someone may be searching for your opinion.

3. New Ideas

One of our most popular posts was written by one of our engineers, called “The Waiting Game: Fast-Food Queuing Theory.” This post applied our specific skillset, computer science, to a very common problem, long lunch lines. Programmers could study the code, and everyone could appreciate the proposed solution.

If you’ve been musing on a solution to an everyday problem or have ideas on a new way of doing something, why not propose your theories to your blog audience? Whether or not your solution holds up, it could be a great conversation starter.

Per those categories, here’s a list of questions to use as a jumping-off point when trying to brainstorm blog ideas:

  • What problems have you solved recently?
  • Have you learned a new skill, shortcut or technique? (Think beyond tech, too. Did you restructure a meeting format to make it more productive? Send a thank-you email that received a great response? Come up with some great interview questions?)
  • Did you read another tutorial that didn’t answer your question or find one on which you could expand?
  • Have you started using any new software or hardware recently?
  • Have you attended any conferences or events that you could review?
  • Have you switched products or services recently?
  • What daily annoyance drives you crazy? How would you propose to fix it?

We’re always striving to improve the quality of the AetherWorks Blog and reach new audiences. Not every post resonates, but it’s worth keeping a frequently-updated blog to help hone in on what does interest readers. If you put out the right content the right people will find you. And if you put out enough content, you have a better chance of putting out the right content.