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AT&T Puts Hands on SANs

Expanding its business continuity offerings geared around storage, AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T) is introducing a service that manages the network transport needed for remote replication, backup, and recovery (see AT&T Takes on Disaster Recovery).

The service provider claims its new StorageConnect service is the only one available that allows managed transport between any two storage locations -- no matter how far apart they are -- with flexible bandwidth and protocol options. The new service also supports multivendor SAN and tape backup environments, AT&T says.

"All the client has to do is come up and plug into the StorageConnect box," says Bernie McElroy, AT&T's VP of business continuity and high-availability services. "There's no technical risk, and it works with any storage equipment out there... We're kind of agnostic there." [Ed. note: Just kind of, though.]

But while AT&T boasts of the novelty of its new service's any-distance capability, the company admits that running certain applications can limit the distance of the transport. For instance, says AT&T product manager Paul DiGiacomo, the service can easily support distances of 30 to 50 miles (or about 48 to 80 km) over Sonet, while it can support up to 200 km over DWDM.

And some observers wonder just how popular this new service will be. "Assuming AT&T is using off-the-shelf CPE [customer premises equipment] devices, I can see no reason customers have to lock in to Ma Bell versus putting out a competitive bid," says David Takata, president and CEO of Engage Capital Inc. "Maybe AT&T discovered that storage managers wouldn't be knocking down their doors to have a telephone company manage proprietary data and instead is moving toward doing the transport instead of focusing on the managed storage services."

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