With the storage market booming, Australia is set to receive its first storage solution provider (SSP), a market which is expected to open new opportunities for resellers.
US-based network computing storage provider StorageTek has launched a newly formed spin-off storage utility company, MSI, and is currently seeking channel partners in Australia and New Zealand.
Dave Templeton, StorageTek's Australia/New Zealand marketing manager, says that the model of an SSP is "really a telco that wants to migrate its business, not necessarily away from telecommunications, but sees itself as an IT company and wants to provide storage-based applications and services on demand.""The two main elements to storage service are storage and bandwidth," Templeton said. This is why he sees the partnership of telcos and StorageTek/MSI being effective.
"The telcos provide the bandwidth and the front-end networking skills and StorageTek and MSI provide the backend storage skills," he said.
According to analyst Dataquest, the SSP market is set to explode from a $10 million business in last year to $8 billion in 2003. Templeton says the growth of storage and the increasing problem of scaling it without an IT outage has provided a huge demand for SSP-type business models.
"Businesses today can't afford to have an outage, especially if they're operating a Web-based business," he says. "They can't afford the hours and hours of downtime it takes to bring their servers down, upgrade all the storage, reboot and fire up again.
With an SSP there are no scalability and no growth issues. The storage capacity is monitored by the SSP and the customer would be informed when their storage disk is getting 80 per cent full and they need to purchase more space."Templeton says that the market for SSP services potentially includes everyone from a personal notebook user to large corporations like banks.
"SSPs allow an organisation to manage its storage more cost effectively by outsourcing its storage requirements," he said. "This can be done by the slice, where the user pays depending on the volume of data, or by providing backup and recovery service to protect the customer data. The third form of storage provision is through vertical application or ASP type services."Templeton is confident the level of security offered will be equivalent to that provided by an internal company infrastructure however industry analysts are issuing warnings. They say it will be a challenge for SSPs to move beyond the dot-coms and gain the trust of larger corporations that have their own technology infrastructure.
One of the major issues coming to the fore is that vendors offering this service don't have track records and there is no assurance they will survive in a turbulent marketplace. What happens to the data if they go out of business is unknown.