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Suppliers Stack Smorgasbord

Seems there's a storage services explosion: Incentra has snapped up specialist NST for $5.5 million in cash, and Savvis is cranking up its managed storage story. (See Incentra Acquires NST and Savvis Expands Architecture.) All of this can be added to a range of newly-announced consulting services from storage vendors, including Computer Associates, EMC, and OnStor. (See EMC Pushes Service Horizons, ONStor Adds Services, and CA, GlassHouse Team Up.)

Closer inspection hints the explosion may be more of a sparkler than a Roman candle. While demand for all kinds of IT services is rising, questions remain about the cost-effectiveness of managed storage services like those of Incentra and Savvis -- and the feasibility of buying storage consulting from a supplier like EMC.

Certainly, users are wrestling with the financial impact of their firms' data explosions. As well as the costs of adding additional storage to heavily burdened systems, a number of users have cited the strain on their existing IT personnel. (See San Antonio Spurs, University Makes Data Center Move, and Storage Skills Still Lag.) Still, despite bubble-era hopes of a large-scale move to storage services, the reality has been an ongoing "slow but steady" climb in demand, one fueled by smaller players rather than large enterprises.

For large firms, the cost of bandwidth needed to send large volumes of data to a remote provider's site is prohibitive. This has particularly been the case with online backup services. (See Online Backup Services: Weighing Their Worth and Storage Services Surge.) Hence, some sources think managed services are better suited to small companies.

"If you are a startup company, and you need storage, it may be better to go to a managed service provider," says Terry Michaelson, director of technical systems at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, Ontario.

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