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IDCs -- the latest wrinkle in expanding storage alternatives

By Alan Earls

It's no longer simply a choice of this box or that box -- or whether the box is on your site or someone else's. Now, the mix and match complexity of storage has ratcheted up a notch or two. Enter the IDCs -- Internet Data Centers -- all-purpose connection points for service providers and the user community. Indeed, according to John Webster, an analyst with Illuminata, a Nashua, NH-based research firm, IDCs are even acting as storage "storefronts" for storage vendors.

"In the case of the IDC," says Webster, "the IDC can provision its own storage infrastructure by reselling [for example] EMC, or it can offer the services of STOR and StorageWay (storage service providers or SSPs) as a subcontracted part of their agreement with the customer."

"It's storage service provider vs. infrastructure provider and the battleground is the IDC," he adds.

Webster cites the example of Exodus Communications, already an IDC with a wide range of other Internet hosting and managed services. The company has now announced a reseller agreement with StorageWay, Inc., that focuses entirely on Internet clients. Exodus says it is committed to partnering with traditional storage industry leaders such as EMC and emerging SSPs to offer customers any flavor of storage help they need.

However, as Webster notes, "Storage service providers are alternatives to the storage infrastructure providers like EMC." And there's the rub. Can IDCs offer, service, advice, and all those options without doing a disservice to someone? Can they offer objectivity? "IDCs represent a huge opportunity for storage vendors selling infrastructure as well as storage service providers selling managed services and utilities," writes Webster. "All players will compete and the fighting will be fierce," he adds.

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About the author: Alan Earls is a freelance writer in Franklin, Mass.

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