Storability adds new twist to storage management

In a new twist on storage outsourcing and management, Storability this week introduced its ASMS (AssuredStorageSM Management System).

The technology allows large companies and service providers to manage storage as a utility service within the secure confines of their own firewalls, said Jeffery James, the strategic marketing manger for Storability, a Southborough, Massachusetts-based storage service provider (SSP).

Unlike other SSP offerings that manage, allocate, and protect a customer's storage across multiple data centers owned and operating by someone other than the customer, ASMS offers the hardware and software for security-minded companies like banking institutions to perform similar actions across their own data centers.

Size is key for the use of ASMS, said James, as customers wanting to manage their storage in the manner of an SSP must already have multiple, distributed storage data centers. Potential ASMP customers "liked what we could do, but chose not to have someone do it for them," said James.

In addition to large companies, service providers that host applications or telecommunication centers - xSPs - are also potential ASMP customers because the Storability technology allows them to quickly deploy secure, dynamic storage networks that protect the data of their customers.

"Hosting center are moving up scale to higher levels of storage delivery," said James. "Our main line of business is to sell managed storage services, and it's a real viable business, particularly through selling through xSPs. In a sense, the xSP becomes our distribution channel."

The design of ASMP is simple. Storability provides a basic "Site Manager" server for each customer's data center location, then customized software tuned for the specific network's infrastructure allows network managers to control the distribution and backup routines of the storage network from a single secure browser hosted by a server within the firewall.

In addition to supplying the technology, Storability also packages a marketing program to help xSPs using the product to better sell storage services to their customers.

Many experts have regarded the SSP business model as generally weak.

"The fundamental problem with the (SSP) industry will continue to be the lack of intellectual property barriers, which make it difficult to support margins as the market niche expands," said Ashok Kumar, an industry analyst with U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray, based in Menlo Park, California.

James agrees, and said that that very criticism of the SSP business model is what spawned ASMS.

"The original SSP business model is faltering," James said. "The idea of a big company renting storage from a small company is not viable. However, the large companies and the hosting centers (as SSP customers) is a very, very viable business."

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