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IBM to offer hosted storage services

Big Blue hopes to leverage the IBM Global Services division by offering hosted storage targeted at business.

IBM has joined the growing number of companies offering storage as a utility.

In an announcement today, officials from the Armonk, N.Y., company said they would leverage the strength of the IBM Global Services division to deliver hosted storage both internally and externally for businesses that would rather outsource the management and maintenance of their storage.

"There are a lot of companies out there today that offer niche utilities … [but] we also have added services that a lot of companies don't have," said Ginni Rometty, general manager of strategy for IBM Global Services. "This is not just about storage capacity, it is the other managed services that you need to make it work."

IBM will tap 3,000 of its storage consultants, as well as its 175 worldwide data centers, to attract customers who want to rent storage on a "pay-as-needed' basis. Pricing depends on the type of service a customer wants, the service level and type of application, but in general it ranges from $25 to about $75 for a gigabyte of data per month.

In addition to offering Managed Storage Services directly to customers, IBM can deliver these services through ISPs, ASPs and other hosting service providers. According to International Data Corp, in Framingham, Mass, the mar-ket for network-delivered services is expected to reach $45 billion by 2004. At least $8 billion of that is for storage outsourcing.

"The idea of 'IT on demand' is that you take your IT structure internally and begin to move it externally," Rometty said.

This summer, Compaq Computer Corp. introduced its Compaq Private Storage Utility service. The Houston-based company uses its IT experts to manage storage remotely from one of Compaq's worldwide operations management centers. Pricing, which includes 576GB of storage and a three-year commitment, ranges from $35 to $55 per gigabyte per month.