Servicer takes sweat out of storage

Technica promises to save storage costs while leaving disks on user sites -- by a remote storage management service
Written by Peter Judge, Contributor

A third-party service that will optimise and manage enterprise storage from a remote site promises to save users money. Technica, a consultant in storage area networking (SANs) has launched remote managed storage (RMS), a service in which it uses management products on its own site to manage storage on customer sites.

Users often call on a consultant to consolidate storage, creating an efficient architecture, but this can rapidly become more inefficient as new servers and disks come online, said Ian Parker, general manger of RMS at Technica. "Storage starts to unconsolidated fairly quickly," he said. "Ten percent of it is wasted in a couple of months."

Two years ago, managed storage providers were suggested as an alternative, holding several customers' data on a central site and making the most efficient use of large storage devices, but users rejected the idea. "Users want to keep the physical storage on their own sites," said Parker.

However, with the current skill shortage, users will find it difficult to keep storage experts, and have them available 24 hours a day, said Parker. RMS keeps the data on SANs at the user site, but they are managed 24 hours a day by Technica staff, across a secure line -- either a DSL or ISDN link. A rack at the customer site will contain equipment to monitor the storage.

Technica intendes to sell the product to customers who have used the company in a consolidation project, selling it as a cost-effective way to keep storage optimised in future.

The service is built almost completely from components of Hewlett-Packard's OpenView suite. "We are one of the most complete OpenView implementations in the world," said Parker. OpenView Network Node Manager will handle the physical management, while OpenView Service Desk will be used to enter user queries and issues. The OpenView service information portal will give users a view of the performance of their network -- through a standard Web browser.

The price of the service depends on both the size in terabytes of the installation and the complexity (including the number of SAN connections and servers). Typically it might cost around £80,000 per year for a few terabytes, up to £400,000 a year for 100 terabytes, said Parker. This is roughly half the price of paying a third party to manage storage with on-site personnel, he said.

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