Net Data Centers Offer More Uptime to Customers

FRAMINGHAM (03/31/2000) - With an announcement this week from a Silicon Valley service provider, the Internet data center model now stands toe-to-toe on reliability with traditional S/390 glass houses, but without the distance limitations of IBM's Sysplex technology.

Conxion Corp. in Santa Clara, California, wowed analysts with its plan to offer in May its FailSafe Hosting Service with a service level agreement (SLA) offering a 99.999 percent uptime guarantee. If a Solaris or Windows NT server goes off-line for 26 seconds, service for the month is free.

Joanna Makris, an analyst at The Yankee Group in Boston, said Conxion's SLA surpasses others that she's seen, and it underscores the advantage of a service provider that owns its own network backbone.

But analyst Warren Wilson at Summit Strategies Inc. in Boston said Conxion's offer, while better than those of most of its competitors, is part of a trend.

Data Return Corp. in Irving, Texas, offers 99.995 percent availability on its Windows NT-only data center. And startup Intira Corp. in Pleasanton, California, has a guarantee of 99.95 percent availability, regardless of application.

Micronpc.com, a division of Micron Electronics Inc. in Nampa, Idaho, will offer a "five nines" SLA with its HostPro service if the application is built with a specific tool set and verified by Micronpc.com.

However, Conxion's "proactive" SLA includes better management tools and financial considerations, Makris said.

Information technology managers who run mission-critical applications but can't invest in redundant infrastructure will be interested in these SLAs, said Courtney Munroe, an analyst at International Data Corp. in Framingham, Massachusetts.

In a related development, IBM and Qwest Communications International Inc. have agreed to build and manage 28 North American data centers over the next three years.

Despite this deal and expansion of data centers by Conxion and others, there appears to be little concern about a glut of data center capacity.

"If you look at the projected petabyte storage growth needs, we're barely ahead of the curve," said Joe Butt, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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