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Storage utility model worth keeping in mind

Storage utility model worth keeping in mind

By Alan Earls

Outsourcing storage, what's known as the (public or private) storage utility model, is worth considering even if you are well along in building a SAN or NAS storage capability.

According to Yankee Group (Boston, Mass.) Storage Analyst William Hurley, companies who have adopted either SANs or NAS -- as well as users of legacy storage systems -- can still benefit from the storage outsourcing model.

Typically, he explains, a private utility (also known as a Storage Service Provider, or SSP) targets brick and mortar businesses as clients. These businesses can realize immediate benefits by utilizing robust remote backup and restore services. These services are unintrusive, as the outsourcing vendor only maintains copies of the customer's data set, leaving the production data set(s) in place. Full data management services are also available, and are frequently bundled with backup and restore services.

When a customer subscribes to a fully managed service, the data is migrated from the client's infrastructure to the provider's system. Examples of private utility SSPs are Managed Storage International, Compaq, Storage Networks, Inc., and StorageProvider.

"An alternative to this 'migration' model is for a vendor to provide remote management of a client's local resources, usually after some integration or implementation has been completed -- by the same vendor (such as Storability)," says Hurley.

In June, when Compaq originally jumped on the storage utility bandwagon, John McArthur, vice president of Storage Research at IDC commented: "Compaq is leveraging its considerable ENSA [Enterprise Networks Storage Architecture] investment and demonstrating the viability of the storage utility model."

Gartner's Adam Couture also noted, "Compaq's 'private utility' strategy should eliminate many of the hurdles inhibiting acceptance of the storage utility model."

Additional resources:

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

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