Internet hosting specialist Hostworks has acquired SAN (storage area network) technology developed by Sun Microsystems and Hitachi Data Systems and has begun offering its customers a managed storage service.
Hostworks traditionally offers Internet application hosting for the likes of ninemsn and Ticketek, but is looking to move into more complex services to add greater value to its customer base. The need to offer a managed storage service was triggered by Hostworks' recent purchase of competitor Interpath. "Several Interpath customers had storage needs that just weren't being met," said CEO Marty Gauvin. "The vendors had been talking to us about moving into storage for several years, but it was only when the demand came about from customers that we decided to do it."
Hostworks has purchased a SAN solution developed by Sun Microsystems and Hitachi Data Systems called the Sun StorEdge 9960. The SAN will be connected to Hostworks' network through multiple 1 or 2Gbps links, and the system can handle up to 64 links into a single frame.
Gauvin said the addition of such sophisticated storage technology will give Hostworks exponential improvements in availability, above and beyond its current level of 99.95 per cent. "We are looking at a few seconds a year of permissible downtime," he said.
Several of Hostworks customers engaged in a trial run on the new system and Gauvin expects many more existing Hostworks customers will choose to outsource the management of their storage. "For some customers we were adding three disks a week to manage the growth of their data," he said. "Now we have the hardware and the software to plan ahead."
Unlike traditional vendor-reseller relationships, Gauvin said once a channel partner like Hostworks purchases a piece of equipment, the vendor brings customers to them. "They need to convert what is an expensive product into a service," he said. "It's too difficult for them to do that themselves, it would cost too much to set up and the service would be poor."
Gauvin admits that several players have attempted to become storage service providers in the past but most have failed. "Too often, they invested so heavily they couldn't offer an affordable service," he said. "They were often asking customers to pay more to outsource storage. What we can do is produce the benefits of the SAN through the applications we offer around it."
Hostworks can now compete for the business of large outsourcing players such as IBM Global Services and EDS, Gauvin said.