StorageTek seeks partners for disaster recovery effort

Pursuing a share of the growing market for disaster recovery storage products and services, StorageTek (Storage Technology Corp.) on Wednesday said it is negotiating with a number of potential telco partners to deliver a complete IP (Internet protocol) disaster recovery offering called StorageTek Lifeline.

StorageTek is looking to partner in an effort to reduce infrastructure costs, company officials said. In contrast, Compaq Computer Corp. on Monday added a Fibre Channel-to-IP bridge to its Data Replication Manager storage product, giving Compaq the ability to offer IP disaster recovery from a single vendor.

Louisville, Colo.-based StorageTek should be ready to introduce its Lifeline partners by April 2002, said Michael Stout, global vice president of business continuity services for StorageTek.

StorageTek's Lifeline will essentially be an "architectural template" for companies looking to implement a disaster recovery program to back up vital storage resources, Stout said. The template-based approach should make it easier and less expensive for companies to deploy a storage disaster recovery system, Stout said.

The base design of Lifeline will consist of a server from Sun Microsystems Inc. connected to a company's primary storage and running StorageTek's hierarchical storage management software. Changes made to the primary storage network will be detected by the Sun server and transmitted to four tape-based storage backup sites through a partnering telco, Stout said.

"Our software has visibility to the primary storage pool, so as a transaction hits the storage pool we move the transaction from the primary device to a cache disk, then the cache disk expires (the data) based on the a company's business rules," Stout explained.

Policy-based management tools within Lifeline will assist companies in backing up only the data they choose, saving money on unnecessary disk and tape space, Stout said.

"(Policy management) allows, from a planning perspective, something customers have been looking for," said Stout, who added that many StorageTek customers have been saying, "I don't need to have a high-availability mirrored solution for 80 percent of my business transactions."

StorageTek will leverage its own savvy as an established provider of tape, disk, and storage software products to offer additional savings to customers looking to implement a Lifeline disaster recovery program, Stout said.

Part of StorageTek's strategy of bringing telcos and other partners onboard the Lifeline program is to take advantage of the existing customer bases of potential partners and to sell Lifeline to those customers. The advantage for potential Lifeline partners is the immediate availability of a disaster recovery product from StorageTek, Stout said.

Customers trying to decide whether it makes more sense to go with a company such as StorageTek, which will outsource parts of Lifeline, vs. a company such as Compaq, which can provide a home-grown disaster recovery product, should turn to the history of their relationship with potential vendors, said Tony Prigmore, a senior analyst with the Enterprise Storage Group Inc., in Milford, Mass.

"The truth is that for the customer to trust any company to roll out a mission-critical application for them, it's not going to matter if the company owns all the pieces of intellectual property or if they have partners," Prigmore said.

"What matters is, 'Do I have reason to trust the company that is putting the SLA (service-level agreement) on line, and what probability do I have, based on previous experience that I can apply to my decision, that these guys don't go out on the ledge and make promises they can't keep?' It comes down to trust."

As for StorageTek, Prigmore said he feels the company is on the right track with its concept of Lifeline.

"StorageTek has been with us as a company and a brand for a long time, and they have a comfortable place in the market with their library technology," Prigmore said. "They do not have a successful history of creating new businesses, but now they are back focusing on something that sounds like their legacy value."

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