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Wireless 411 Firm Calls for Backup

Web-based directory assistance information provider Qsent Corp.
is beefing up its storage infrastructure to prepare for a wireless 411 phone service that could add hundreds of millions of names to its database. In doing so, it's finding the need to juggle storage across multiple sites and tiers, while bolstering security.

Last September, wireless carriers Alltel Corp. (NYSE: AT), Cingular Wireless LLC, Nextel Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: NXTL), Sprint PCS, and T-Mobile USA selected QSent to create and manage a 411 directory service for cell phone numbers. The directory should be online by 2006.

Cell phone customers have to opt in, so Qsent has no way of knowing how many of the 190-million-plus U.S. cell numbers will go in its directory. Those who do will join Qsents current database of more than 100 million records.

On top of its 411 work, Portland, Ore.-based Qsent sells a Web-based directory information listing service that lets merchants enter a phone number and get back a name and address to verify orders.

With all the data it needs to store, Qsent has been upgrading its SAN and NAS systems across two data centers in Oregon and Illinois. “And we’re just about maxed out,” says Derek Olsen, Qsent’s manager of UNIX administration.

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