The return of outsourcing? Online storage dissected Part 4

Demand for online storage from has meant a resurgence among external service providers which, as we discover in part four of our series, can now meet customers needs as never before.

Online storage makes sense for a number of reasons, and the good news is that the market is responding with enterprise-class players that are capable of meeting many enterprise storage needs.

Best of all, conditions in the industry mean that they have a good chance of success, an important consideration given that assessment of risk is a very major consideration in any storage decision.

Forrester Research's March 2006 paper 'Storage Service Providers (SSPs) Rise From The Ashes' (excerpted below), says that the success of these new and emerging storage service providers and their online offerings is attributable to several factors:

  • Focus. The majority of SSPs are concentrating on secondary storage requirements to support business continuity (disaster recovery and backup) and data retention (archiving content to satisfy regulatory requirements, legal discovery requirements, and corporate policies).

  • Lower disk costs. The cost of disk storage has been declining by as much 30% per year for the past several years. Meanwhile, new low-cost disk drive technologies like SATA have driven down the cost of disk space for near-line storage even further. There is also the availability of storage systems purpose-built for storing archival content - such as EMC's Centera and HP's Reference Information Storage System (RISS) - that self-configure, self-heal, and scale to store hundreds of TBs of data. Storage systems such as these enable enterprises and SSPs to manage hundreds of TBs of storage more cost-effectively than they ever could in the past.

  • Wide-area networking for the masses. During the past two years, telecommunications service providers have been steadily improving their SLAs. The advent of these new networking options represents a sea change in storage-related network transport services.

  • Storage management software matures. Storage resource management (SRM) software has increased the number of terabytes that a single administrator can manage and has made it easier both to provision shared storage and to monitor service levels.

  • Backup and replication optimized for the WAN. Vendors have optimized their backup and replication technologies to operate over the WAN. Today, you can manage a global instance of a data protection application to back up or replicate data over the WAN to a central site. In addition, these applications require much less bandwidth than in the past because they now send only differential or incremental changes.

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