Varied Needs Produce Varied SSPs
The needfor storage within enterprise shops is growing at an inconceivable rate. As aresult, a new breed of outsourcing providers -- storage service providers (SSP)-- are entering the market in an effort to help businesses meet their demands.
Accordingto the Enterprise Storage Group, capacity needs of Fortune 1,000 companiesaveraged between 35 percent and 40 percent growth each year in the pre-Internetera. Post Internet, per-year capacity growth for these companies is now 100percent. And for an Internet-related business (IRB), storage capacity needs aregrowing at a rate of 400 percent per year.
Theintrigue of an SSP revolves around the idea that an enterprise can relieveitself of the financial burdens of constantly trying to maintain pace withcapacity demands while also freeing its IT resources to concentrate on corecompetencies.
Generally,SSPs provide storage and backup services via a telephone-like utility pricingmodel. But not all SSPs are cut from the same cloth. StorageWay, for example,is an SSP that tailors its services to meet the needs of IRBs. Rob Commins,director of product marketing for StorageWay, says the capacity needs of an IRBdiffer from those of a traditional enterprise. Given the per-year capacitygrowth an IRB experiences, Commins says their needs for scalability are fargreater than a brick-and-mortar enterprise's.
To make itsoffering rapidly scalable, StorageWay is in the midst of creating a globalnetwork of storage facilities. By doing this, Commins says, StorageWay will beable to use its entire infrastructure to quickly and easily scale a solution.Whereas most SSPs provide each customer a rack in a hosting facility, whichrequires the ordering of new gear if capacity is needed above the agreed uponlevels, StorageWay extends infrastructurewide. Scaling, therefore, isn'tdelayed by the arrival and implementation of new equipment.
Admittingthat this solution does create security concerns, Commins says StorageWay isproviding a direct Fibre Channel connection from the customer to the server onwhich their data resides. The company will also isolate and secure both afabric-switch network path and a partition for the customer's data. AndStorageWay's out-of-bound management layers is protected by several firewalls.
While thenature of StorageWay's offering involves establishing a global presence,StorageProvider is taking a regional approach.
"Wewant to make sure that a particular region is on its way to profitabilitybefore we role out 20 regions at a time," says Reagan Dixon, president andCEO of StorageProvider. Since StorageProvider is focusing on the midtier market-- which Dixon says is generally regional -- it doesn't have to rush to establisha national or global presence.
To create amore cost-efficient solution consistent with the needs of midtierorganizations, StorageProvider develops on an open standards platform. Withparticular emphasis on the financial, insurance, and real estate industries,Dixon says StorageProvider's customer base is composed mostly ofInternet-enabled and midsize professional services organizations.
WorldStoranother player within the SSP space, differs from StorageProvider in terms ofthe value proposition it offers customers. While StorageProvider employs anopen standards platform for cost-efficiency reasons, WorldStor's solutions arebuilt upon offerings from best-in-breed providers, such as EMC, Brocade, andVeritas.
SteveBishop, CTO and co-founder of WorldStor, says his company is dedicated toproviding world-class infrastructure with world-class customer service."The customer wants service not only from the SSP, but also from theirpartners," Bishop says, who describes WorldStor's partner relationships assignificant.
ThroughWorldStor's monitoring portal, a customer can perform capacity and backupmanagement functions. Bishop says the amount of self-service a customer can usethe portal for is fairly limited because WorldStor prides itself on itsmanagement capabilities.
Storabilityis an SSP that believes locally hosted, remotely managed solutions foster amore secure environment and better performance. But Asim Zaheer, director ofproduct marketing at Storability, realizes this arrangement may not work for everyone.
"We'reflexible," Zaheer says. "Many of the Fortune 1,000 want to acquirestorage themselves, or they already have it." In such a situation, Zaheerexplains local hosting is probably a good idea. If a customer doesn't have thespace or desire to use its own facilities for storage, Zaheer says Storabilityis equally capable of administering its services to a colocation site.
Accordingto Ruya Atac, director of enterprise marketing at StorageNetworks Inc. (SNI),security is the most important issue to consider when evaluating a SSP."It's critical that any [SSP] provide security at all levels ofinfrastructure," Atac says.
For SNI,high-level security is one of the defining characteristics of its storageofferings. From dedicated Fibre Channel SANs, to 24-hour event monitoring, todual-carrier private connectivity, SNI takes a wide range of precautions toensure the safety of its customers' data.
One of thebiggest target markets for SSPs is the application service provider (ASP) area.Arsenal Digital Solutions, which calls itself a storage application serviceprovider, pays special attention to the ASP market. "Some analysts havecoined us the SSP for the ASPs," says Vijay Ahuja, CTO at Arsenal.
Arsenalexpects to release an open API in the first quarter of 2001 to compliment itssuite of storage solutions. With the tool, Ahuja says, applications will bequickly and easily integrated with Arsenal's storage. The API is also equippedwith robust security features that enable data to be compressed and encryptedat the source and decoded at the destination.
Thecompetition within the SSP space is fierce. There are about 25 companiescurrently providing some level of outsourced storage. Each SSP, however, ismoving on the market from a different angle, as they attempt to portraythemselves as the perfect fit for a particular segment of customers. Beingaware of an SSP's strengths and focus is critical when considering the optionof storage outsourcing.
StorageWayInc., Fremont, Calif., www.storageway.com
WorldStorInc., Fairfax, Va., www.worldstor.com
StorabilityInc., Southborough,Mass., www.storability.com
Storage NetworksInc., Waltham, Mass., www.storagenetworks.com
ArsenalDigital Solutions Worldwide Inc.,Durham, N.C., www.arsenaldigital.com
TheEnterprise Storage Group Inc.,Milford, Mass., www.enterprisestoragegroup.com