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Managed Services Resurge

Is managed storage back? Years after the "storage service provider (SSP)" model exited stage right, a flurry of recent announcements shows renewed interest. The question is, by whom? The chatter about new services may have as much to do with marketing as with actual revenues.

Let's start at the top. Within the last two weeks alone, announcements show firms are freshly interested in selling a range of services related to storing and protecting data. To do that, they're acquiring companies, expanding their current service offerings, and branching out into new kinds of storage-related services. Following are just a few examples:

  • July 19: 3PAR boasts service provider revenue. The vendor claims that about half its "growing customer base" comprises providers of managed storage services. The need to address this particular segment of providers has been echoed in recent announcements from software makers Aptare and Incentra. (See Aptare Adds Data Protection and Incentra Receives $1.4M.)
  • July 11: Iomega buys CSCI. Iomega spent $11.6 million to buy a company that specializes in security VPN "software as a service," and plans are underway to use CSCI's OfficeScreen as the basis for services combining Iomega's SMB storage wares with CSCI's services. (See Storage Shopping Spree.)
  • July 10: MTI buys Collective. The managed storage services provider, one of the few survivors of the SSP bomb-out circa 2001, purchased the IT services firm to expand its range of offerings. (See MTI Completes Collective Buy.)

The above are just the tip of an iceberg that includes not only a rash of storage service announcements, but news of suppliers selling wares to service providers for a diverse range of offerings, including hosting and business continuity, email management and archiving, storage consulting, and disaster recovery. (See XOsoft, AmeriVault Team, AmeriVault Adds Recovery, SunGard, Recall Team Up, and Eze Castle Offers DR.)

Is the SSI model back on its feet with a mission? Service providers say yes. Spokespeople for EVault, for example, say its online backup service for SMBs grew 52 percent last year; its enterprise managed services grew "exponentially"; and professional services, including consulting, grew by 500 percent. As a result, EVault plans to announce a new set of professional service offerings later this month.

At least one analyst thinks managed services are growing. "Not only is customer interest in managed services on the rise, but managed security and storage services are typically among the first forms of managed service that SMBs adopt," wrote Jeff Kaplan, founder of consultancy THINKStrategies consultancy, in a recent blog.

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