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Outsourcing SAN data storage management

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in particular should consider outsourcing their storage area networks (SANs), and here you'll get five reasons to help convince them to do just that.

In the late 90s and into early 2000, outsourcing of corporate data storage was seen as a way to reduce capital expenditures on infrastructure that would allow companies to focus on their core business. When the Internet bubble burst, it forced all the startup SSPs out of business. The subsequent events surrounding 9/11 and the collapse of Enron and others has introduced new government regulations surrounding outsourcing data storage, preservation and archiving. These issues are forcing companies to reassess current practices and find ways to reduce the cost of these new regulations on the bottom line.

Data storage outsourcing is now gaining traction again as a way to simplify and reduce costs for data management. Here I'll review the top five reasons why your potential customers should consider data storage outsourcing and services you can provide to them.

Limited data center floor space

What's the customer problem? Building out a data center can be very expensive. Outsourcing to a co-provider or hosting facility may prove more economical in the short term. Leasing space from a hosting facility and using their resources to manage the infrastructure could let their staff concentrate on core business.

What service can you provide? Offer to help customers compare lease rates and management expenses to the cost of building out their own site to see which one makes sense for them.

Limited qualified staff resources

What's the customer problem? Companies just now considering moving off direct-attached storage and migrating to a SAN, will need to make sure they have the talent with the right skills required to make the right decisions. Building a SAN requires a good grounding in Fibre Channel topology, vendor products, negotiations, networking, databases, performance and other application, troubleshooting and management skills.

What service can you provide? Offering Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) services can make your customer's life a lot simpler.

Budgeting constraints

What's the customer problem? Your customer just received notification from upper management that a major new application project is hitting -- but every nook and cranny of their current data center is jammed to the gills. They may have room for a few new servers, but that big iron storage array simply will not fit, and they have no more capacity for power and cooling anyway.

What service can you provide? Provide them with, or help them identify, a storage hosting facility.

Regulatory requirements

What's the customer problem? The government has made life for IT departments a bit harder lately by mandating requirements for keeping data archives for up to seven years, or longer, in some instances. They also want timely auditing and search capabilities built in and want to make sure all data is immutable and stored on non-erasable media.

What service can you provide? These requirements have started a cottage industry for regulatory archive services, so you may offer offsite hosting facilities that take care of all the paperwork and compliance for them.

DR requirements

What's the customer problem? Building out an entirely new data center in another location and staffed with qualified resources can be a huge expense for any business. There are many qualified hosting facilities that specialize in remote backup and disaster recovery.

What service can you provide? DR is probably the best reason for customers to use a SAN hosting facility. Be sure to provide a A DR facility that is far enough away so as not to expose them to the same disaster risk. Hurricane Katrina is a good example. Those in New Orleans who had backup facilities a state away in Mississippi got a nasty surprise.

This tip originally appeared on

About the author: Christopher Poelker is the co-author of SAN for Dummies.

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