Telcos eye hosted IP storage

Telecom is considering following the lead of Optus and introducing a hosted storage service based on the emerging iSCSI protocol.

Telecom is considering following the lead of Optus and introducing a hosted storage service based on the emerging iSCSI protocol.

The Australian carrier plans this month to launch EXPAN IP, a fully managed online storage service aimed at customers with IP-based infrastructure.

According to an Optus statement, “EXPAN IP storage runs on ubiquitous and familiar IP networks”, and “storage occurs in a highly secure, offsite environment, allowing instantaneous online access to a company’s data repository”.

Eric Pilon, hosting and storage service line manager at Telecom, says the company is looking into its options in IP-based storage.

“We believe the market in New Zealand is reasonably small for iSCSI storage but think there’s good demand potential. A lot of our business customers are requesting managed hosting, including servers and storage, for document management, archiving and disaster recovery.”

Hosted IP-based storage is on the horizon, but not here yet, he says.

“We expect at least a six-month timeframe before we definitively pursue any solutions in that area.”

Phillip Sargeant (pictured), Gartner Asia-Pacific research director for servers and storage, says EXPAN IP begs comparison with earlier hosted storage offerings in Australia.

“Telstra had one with EMC and it didn’t go anywhere and EDS has one as well.”

Hitachi Data Systems is one of several players partnering with Optus on EXPAN IP and Sargeant says iSCSI isn’t available from Hitachi just yet.

The relative lack of enthusiasm for Telstra’s and EDS’s offerings a few years ago doesn’t mean EXPAN IP won’t take off, he says.

“It’s a service offering and it depends on what the user is attracted to. The attraction is probably that its pay-as-you-go and it depends whether they want their storage at the service providers’ location or their own.”

That was one of the bugbears of the earlier hosted offerings, he says.

“There were three issues — bandwidth, security and cost — and when you have the backing of a telco provider you can mitigate the bandwidth issue.

“ISCSI has security as part of the standard, so that mitigates that, but you still have cost.”

Optus’ announcement doesn’t quote prices, but The Australian reported an Optus spokesperson as saying EXPAN IP would take Optus down from the $40 per gigabyte market to the $10 to $20 one.

Sargeant says depending on what services are offered, those figures could still be seen as quite expensive.

TelstraClear didn’t respond in time for deadline to say whether it is considering offering hosted IP storage.

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