The storage utility market just got a little smaller.
Comdisco, Inc., a 30 year-technology veteran and a $3.9 billion technology giant, has formed a new storage services division and is gearing up to launch a set of new managed storage services. Comdisco enters the market boasting deep pockets, a proven track record of revenues and profits, and ownership of the eighth-largest private, high-speed network in the U.S., all of which can be considered an advantage over start up storage service providers (SSPs) that have to seek out finding and spend time building their infrastructure. These reasons and more have some analysts looking at Comdisco to be a successful player in the highly active SSP market.
Comdisco will offer a range of solutions to help companies design, implement and manage storage area network (SAN) and network-attached storage (NAS) solutions. The Rosemont, Ill.-based company will also offer storage utility solutions, managed storage environments hosted at one of Comdisco's Technology Service Centers or at a third-party's facilities. Comdisco said it would examine the customer's current storage environment, identify storage and availability needs; design, test and implement solutions; and provide around-the-clock monitoring and management.
"They have a lot of expertise and experience in data storage services, coming out of the recovery business. In particular, they're well-attuned to the requirements of large, bricks-and-mortar customers, something many of the start-up SSPs are still getting up to speed on," said Doug Chandler, program manager for IDC's storage and data management services program.
"As a customer looking for storage utility services, I may look more favorably on a company like Comdisco that has a solid history of positive business results." Chandler added that Comdisco's stability as a company gives many customers assurance that it is going to be around, long-term, thereby making the SSP model a more attractive option for managing storage.
Comdisco is in a strong starting position, according to Chandler, with a traditional set of offerings for customers who want their storage managed on-site, and then migrates with the customer when the remote, Internet Data Center model (like Exodus) becomes more attractive, because Comdisco already has data centers as a core part of its infrastructure.
"We've traditionally been known as a leasing company," said Mark Avery, general manager of Comdisco Storage Services. "We have extensive experience in data storage and management across multiple vendor platforms and have a proven track record in data availability, protection and recovery."
Avery reiterated that Comdisco is not getting into the storage utility space on a whim. "We didn't jump in because everybody else is doing it. We already have the infrastructure."
Adam Couture, senior analyst for Dataquest has been anticipating Comdisco's move for several months. "They were a natural for this market. They already had the data centers built, miles and miles of network and the people already on board."
Comdisco's strength in the past has been in disaster and recovery, but Couture maintains that while storage-on-demand is a different animal, the learning curve involved won't be a difficult jump for the company by any means.
"The closest competitor to what they're doing is IBM. Their model is exactly the same as IBM's and both have a recognizable market name. There's an awful lot of similarities there," said Couture.
Along with IBM, Electronic Data Systems Corp. and Compaq are offering comparable managed storage services.
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