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Managed storage services

What is your feeling regarding companies who are now looking at rolling out new storage services like managed storage services? Some of these companies are partnering with vendors such as Legato, STK, SUN, EMC and Brocade are offering remote monitoring and management to their end users. Do you see a value and market with this type of service offering?

First, for disclosure, let me say that my current employer is the Managed Storage Provider -- Storability. With that said, I see a tremendous value in the managed storage service offering.

Today, many of the sites that I visit are a mess when it comes to managing their storage growth. Backups are not completed up to 50% of the time. If backups do complete successfully, the restores usually fail.

Failures are very disruptive to operations and force the company to firefight problems instead of focusing on their core business. This situation provides a huge opportunity for Managed Service Providers willing to take on these challenges.

The partnership between the Managed Service Provider (MSP) and the vendor is driven by many factors. First, if the MSP is taking over an existing environment, then the hardware and software to be managed needs to meet the MSP?s criteria according to the Service Level Agreement (SLA). For example, if a customer needs five-9s availability and they currently are running a JBOD system, the MSP is going to have to make hardware/software suggestions to meet the SLA. Also, if a new infrastructure is being deployed, the MSP again might recommend hardware and software based on their certification.

Partnerships encompass both hardware and software. In the examples you site, Legato could be a backup software partner, STK for tape, SUN for the backup servers, EMC for storage, and Brocade for Fibre Channel infrastructure. These companies may already be in place or MSP may partner with them to meet the SLA.

The opposite is also true. Request for Proposals (RFP) are increasingly adding sections that ask for an MSP to manage the infrastructure companies are bidding to provide. In this case, you might find a storage vendor looking for an MSP to partner with.

An MSP that can stay independent from software and hardware vendors allow for the widest range of options for the customer: Thus, the greatest value.

Jim Booth

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