Partnering with an SSP

Partnering with an SSP

By Linda Gail Christie

Unlike many application service providers (ASPs) that sell their services directly to small and mid-sized companies, Hudson, Mass-based cMeRun targets telco resellers who can potentially provide millions of subscribers, almost over night. "Co-branding with telcos provides huge market potential," said Steve Harrington, cMeRun's director of marketing communications. "However, with that comes the added burden of providing carrier-class reliability that telcos expect. Being able to sell a highly available storage solution that can scale automatically within 24 hours is key to our business success," Harrington said.

However, when Harrington's team met with the folks at StorageNetworks to negotiate a storage service provider contract, they received a lot more than hardware. "When we arrived, we were all set to receive a presentation. But instead, we were surprised to find six storage architects, network administrators, etc., who wanted to help us custom design an affordable storage strategy that would meet our needs and the needs of our customers."

"We approach a customer's storage requirements relative to the business applications they have to support on their servers," said Graeme Jarvis, director of software technology marketing for StorageNetworks. For example, a storage solution would be different if they had web-based file serving needs, an e-commerce site, or had to support a database. Everyone

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is different, so one size doesn't necessarily fit all. Requirements even vary for different business units for the same customer."

Designing the best storage solution starts with a discovery process. "Out of this dialog comes a draft service level agreement that's looked at from an operational, delivery, availability, and cost perspective," Jarvis said. "Four 9's or five 9's availability, tape backup windows, firewalling schemes, redundancy considerations for business continuity purposes, etc."

"We can start with a 12-month contract," Jarvis said. "But, if one month or six months later, the customer decides to add another service, we provide an upgrade migration path that melds the two SLAs together from a functional perspective."

"Partnering with an SSP that can meet our requirements and growth has been key to our sales strategy and the success of our business," said Harrington.

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About the author: Storage management tips are written by Linda Gail Christie, a contributing editor based in Tulsa, Okla.

This was first published in February 2001

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