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AT&T to Nurse Blue Cross Data

AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T)
is leading the charge of carriers back into the storage service provider (SSP) arena. But so far, it's appears to be a solitary foray -- although that could be because AT&T is the only one making noise about it.

AT&T this week scored a three-year, $3.6 million contract with Blue Cross and Blue Shield for hosting and storage services. AT&T will host the database of healthcare provider plans for the company, using its data center in Lyle, Ill., to handle records for 88 million subscribers in the United States. The carrier also will offer Blue Cross and Blue Shield business continuity capabilities.

This is the third major hosting deal AT&T and its strategic partner, Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW), have landed this year. AT&T previously announced hosting deals with the Chicago Mercantile

stock exchange and the Chicago Tribune
newspaper (see Chicago Tribune Gets a Tech Rewrite).

These wins are anomalous in the carrier world. Other providers have announced plans to get into storage services, but no one's had much to show. Last August, WilTel
Communications Group Inc.
(Nasdaq: WTEL)
said it was working on managed storage services in its labs; and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: FON)
announced a disaster recovery service in July (see Carriers Getting Hip to Storage and (see Sprint Stretches Storage Over IP). Since then, we havent seen any customer announcements, and those companies didn’t respond to calls asking if they had any.

That doesn't mean no other carriers are providing storage services though. Kevin Thomas, marketing director of ManagedStorage International Inc. (MSI), says carriers MSA partners with, such as Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q) and Cable & Wireless, are doing well through resellers. "Those companies are doing a fair amount of business and some are doing gangbuster business," Thomas says.

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