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Changing SSPs?

By Linda Gail Christie

If you think that switching service providers to a better deal "down the street" or bringing your storage management "in house" is as automatic as retrieving backup media or having files electronically forwarded, maybe you should take a closer look at your provider's offerings, as well as your contract.

"From a legal standpoint, it's pretty obvious that your information ownership should not be in question," says Guenter Krauss, president/CEP of Alentis, the business-to-business marketplace uniting application service provider (ASP) buyers with ASP sellers. "So it's your right to take it away. However, it's not in the best interest of any [storage service provider] SSP to make it easy for customers to move in house or to a competitor's platform."

Every service provider contract needs a failsafe. "We recommend that companies make provisions up-front for transferring sensitive data to an alternate provider in case the SSP cannot meet its contractual requirements, suffers a disaster, or experiences financial failure," says Scott Lever, research vice president for Michael F. Corbett & Associates, a leading outsourcing consulting firm based in Hyde Park, NY.

"You need to be proactive, because you won't have time to react in an emergency. Line up an alternate provider and specify how the data transfer will take place BEFORE signing the initial outsourcing contract. Often this will be the runner up in your search," Lever says.

Krauss also warns, "If the applications or hardware your provider uses are proprietary, your data may not be compatible with other SSP offerings. If this is the case, you may find yourself in the position of having to develop, license, or purchase specific technology for retrieving your files. This is something that should be clarified up-front."

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

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