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Follow the Amazon

11:00 AM -- When Amazon contacted us earlier this week to talk about their new hosted storage offering, I admit I was surprised. (See Amazon Takes Aim at Hosted Storage.) Like most people, I have always associated the online retailer with books, rather than bytes. But, on closer inspection, Amazon's new S3 offering could be the harbinger of a new trend.

In a nutshell, Amazon has taken its own unused storage capacity and opened it up to the outside world. The vendor won't say exactly how many terabytes (or, more likely, petabytes) are available on its back-end systems, but it is certain to be a sizeable number. The retailer, for example, is rumored to be running one of the world's largest databases to support its online empire. Why not make some money out of this?

It makes perfect sense. A handful of firms, such as Daimler Chrysler, have already looked at harnessing their dormant IT resources for use within their own busineses. Why not turn this into a new set of services for other firms? (See Daimler Maps Grid Savings.)

The omnipresent Google, of course, is a major candidate for offering this type of service, along with any number of service providers and telecom firms. (See Google Groans Under Data Strain and Go Google Geeks.) AT&T, for example, which has 30 data centers dotted around the world, recently told Byte and Switch that it's working on overhauling its own managed storage story. (See AT&T Plans Utility Computing Overhaul.)

There are others who could get in on this act. Universities and, who knows, even the government sector, could make some extra dollars by opening up their storage servers. Many of these organizations, after all, are already sharing data across major national and international grids. (See Buffalo Cluster's a Grid Cornerstone and Pittsburgh Picks Big Ben.)

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