StorageTek offers data outsourcing

Storage Technology Corp. last week launched a new service that will allow customers to outsource their data storage, rather than buying equipment and managing it on-site.

Through its new Storage Utility solutions program, StorageTek, Louisville, Colo., will manage customers' data either on-site or remotely, supplying hardware, software, disk or tape capacity and support services for PCs, laptops, networks and mainframes. The service is aimed at customers with fast-growing or unpredictable storage needs.

Initially, the company is targeting Internet companies and vendors that host World Wide Web sites. However, Darryl Royal, vice president for integrated solutions at StorageTek, said, "We expect this to become a primary way to offer storage to all our customers."

Steve Coates, StorageTek's Storage Utility program manager, said the company's strategy is to market to "high-growth, data-intensive, resource- and capital-constrained environments," which could include government agencies that are trying to operate more efficiently.

Customers who subscribe to the Storage Utility service would negotiate a package of storage capacity and services based on their needs and pay StorageTek a monthly fee. Royal said the program is modeled on services offered by the telecommunications industry to supply "bandwidth on demand" so that customers do not have to pay peak traffic rates during slow periods.

David Hill, a senior analyst for storage and storage management with Boston-based Aberdeen Group, said the service might appeal to agencies that are collecting data at a rapid rate, such as those that gather satellite data.

"If you have a set of data that is becoming unmanageable or you need some performance characteristics like faster response time [for access], you might want to turn to someone who is a specialist in that area to help you out," Hill said.

But Hill said he doubted agencies would outsource data storage for mission-critical systems unless they planned to contract out their entire system operations.

Robert Guerra, a consultant who follows federal information technology outsourcing trends, agreed. But he was skeptical about whether agencies can separate management of their data storage systems from management of the data itself. "I don't know how you segment out just the IT infrastructure for the data," he said.

Coates said customers could specify how much involvement StorageTek has in managing their data, as opposed to just keeping track of storage system usage. "It's not 'one-size fits all,' " he said. "[With] security, customer[s] can manage that themselves."


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