Managed Storage Moves On

Managed storage: the next big thing or big vendor hype?

December 20, 2006

4 Min Read
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Are managed storage services making a comeback? Certainly, managed service providers such as Savvis and AT&T are cranking up their offerings in this space, citing customers' need to harness spiraling volumes of data.

Savvis today revealed plans to overhaul its own internal IP network, partly to bolster its managed storage story. (See Cisco, Savvis Launch Network.) The managed service specialist has teamed up with Cisco to roll out a slew of 10-Gbit/s edge networking gear, which execs claim will boost bandwidth and speed up data access for hosted storage.

The service provider's move follows a slew of announcements and acquisitions from other vendors earlier this year, all tied to managed storage services. (See Managed Services Resurge, Storage Shopping Spree, XOsoft, AmeriVault Team, AmeriVault Adds Recovery, and SunGard, Recall Team Up.)

At least one analyst, though, told Byte & Switch that users should not get too carried away with this, adding that there is still plenty of hype around the whole issue of managed storage. "I would not go so far as to say that there is more demand for managed storage than any other kind of managed service," says Melanie Posey, a research director at analyst firm IDC.

The last few years have nonetheless seen a change in users' attitudes toward managed storage, according to the analyst. "Back in the dotcom day, people thought that it would be a standalone business, where you took your business offsite for things like backup," she explains. "But in practice, you would buy managed storage as part of managed hosting or some other part of managed IT services."Savvis relies on storage servers and software from 3Par to provide its managed storage service, which is sold to users in 50-Gbyte "chunks." (See 3PAR Picks Up $30M , 3PAR Services SPs, and 3PAR Intros Server.) "More people are asking for it," says Jonathan Crane, Savvis' president. "Any time that we do a proposal, we get asked about managed storage."

With the network upgrade, the service provider is also planning to introduce a Web portal that users can access to increase the capacity of their managed storage, according to the exec. At the moment, Crane told Byte & Switch this can only be done via the Savvis helpdesk.

Savvis, though, could not confirm the specific cost of its storage service, although execs admitted that it is typically sold in conjunction with other hosted services, such as managed servers. Other vendors, though, have been more forthcoming on price and Sun offers access to its own back-end storage for $1 per Gbyte per month. (See Sun Intros Grid Storage.)

IDC's Posey, though, thinks that many users are looking for more than just managed storage. "The trend now is this whole menu of managed and outsourced services," she explains, adding that this could include managed VPNs as well as managed servers.

Telecom providers such as AT&T, which uses an EMC-based SAN and NAS technology as part of its Ultravailable Storage offering, are also refocusing their efforts on storage. This relationship appears to be a two-way street. AT&T, for example, recently entered into a licensing deal with EMC earlier this year, which will enable the storage vendor to license IP network management technology developed for AT&T. (See EMC Reaches AT&T Deal.)"[The likes of] AT&T and Verizon are full service telco carriers in addition to offering data center services," says Posey. "With an AT&T or a Verizon, you can have your hosting and your storage in one of their data centers, and things to deal with your corporate networks," adds the analyst, explaining that these could also encompass IP-VPNs and Voice over IP applications.

AT&T, like Savvis, though, could not confirm the specific cost of its managed storage offering.

Service providers and hardware giants are not the only ones eyeing managed storage. Other vendors, such as online backup and recovery specialist EVault, are also making inroads into this space. (See EVault Delivers Growth, EVault Intros Products, and EVault Offers Discovery Insight.)

A spokesman for EVault told Byte and Switch that the firm has seen a "substantial increase" in its managed storage service business since launching its first offering last year. Unlike Savvis, which uses its own storage kit for hosting, EVault gives customers the option of using its storage or providing their own equipment. The backup specialist can manage this hardware either at its own data center, or at the customer's facility. Pricing for the managed services offering starts at $1,300 per month, based on the amount of data managed.

James Rogers, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

  • AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)

  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)

  • EVault Inc.

  • IDC

  • Savvis Communications Corp. (Nasdaq: SVVS)

  • Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW)

  • 3PAR Inc.

  • Verizon Communications Inc.0

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