Storage service provider options

Exploring some of the industry pros/cons on SSPs.

Storage service provider options
Rick Cook

In the last year storage service providers have grown from being a bright idea to an increasingly important component of the storage picture. According to International Data Corporation, the market for storage services will grow to between $5 and $8 billion by 2003 from virtually nothing in 1999. Currently there are about 175 SSPs to choose from.

The basic concept of an SSP is simple: The customer unloads the headaches of managing storage on someone else and the SSP reaps the benefits of economies of scale by spreading costs out over multiple customers. Although there are many different models for SSPs, ranging from traditional outsourcing where the SSP takes over the storage component of the enterprise's existing data center to pure utility model where the enterprise in effect rents space on the SSP's storage servers, the most common model uses the SSP's servers with some level of management by the SSP.

However, not everyone agrees that SSPs are going to become major storage players. Last December, US Bancorp Piper Jaffary analyst Ashok Kumar issued a report warning that the entire SSP industry is at risk. In the report Kumar said he thinks the basic concept of an SSP "has merit", but he said he didn't think the industry could attain critical mass quick enough to overcome the high startup costs. He pointed out that the SSP model requires companies to give up some control over their data by putting it in external sites.

At the present time SSPs are in a highly competitive field with very few standards or standardized practices. It is important that enterprises that decide to use an SSP carefully study their options and negotiate a well-written contract for the service.


Rick Cook has been writing about mass storage since the days when the term meant an 80K floppy disk. The computers he learned on used ferrite cores and magnetic drums. For the last twenty years he has been a freelance writer specializing in storage and other computer issues.

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Related Book

Designing A Total Data Storage Solution: Technology, Implementation, and Management
Author : Roxanne Burkey and Charles V. Breakfield
Publisher : Auerbach Publications
Published : Sep 2000
Summary :
Your company's global competitiveness depends on the utilization and maintenance of information. Current data handling practices-storing, updating, and accessing data-can be either a problem or a significant strategic advantage for your company. Designing a Total Data Storage Solution: Techniques, Technology, and Implementation gives you the information you need to compare current technologies and determine which is best suited to your enterprise.


This was first published in April 2001
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