By Heidi Biggar
Services have become an important revenue source for storage vendors over the past couple of years, a trend that research firm International Data Corp. (IDC) expects will continue over the next several years.
Leading storage vendors such as EMC, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Network Appliance, Veritas, and StorageTek, to name a few, have all invested heavily in services and are seeing good returns as a result, according to analysts.
In the case of StorageTek, about 40% of its total revenue can be attributed to its services business. (As a point of comparison, IDC estimates that about 20% to 25% of EMC’s total revenue comes from services.)
StorageTek recently revamped its Global Services organization and introduced new professional and remote managed services leveraging assets from its acquisitions of NetIX and Storability, respectively, last year.
To date, the majority of StorageTek’s services business has focused on its own technologies-specifically, tape. However, the new services are geared to multi-vendor storage environments as well.
While growth in the storage services market has slowed down over the last few years (paralleling the general slowdown in IT spending), the market is expected to grow at a moderate 6% CAGR from 2004 to 2008, according to IDC (see figure).
Users can expect to see the fastest growth in what the industry commonly refers to as “professional services,” says Doug Chandler, program director of IDC’s infrastructure management services program. Professional services-a category IDC does not use in its forecasts-generally include consulting, integration, and management services. Some research firms (not IDC) also factor in revenue from outsourcing (e.g., backup and recovery, e-mail archiving, etc.) into this broad category.
Chandler says that as long as there is a measurable return on investment (ROI), users will shell out the dollars for storage services, usually starting with an assessment service of some type. Particularly hot, says Chandler, are services that help users consolidate their storage environments because consolidation provides organizations with immediate, tangible benefits.
StorageTek recently introduced its Storage Appraisal Services, one of the company’s newly revamped practice areas, or services offerings. Other StorageTek professional/storage services include Implementation and Education, Data Center, Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery, and Remote Managed Services (the Storability component).
The Storage Appraisal Service is a foundational element of a larger information life-cycle management (ILM) strategy, according to the company. This type of service is designed to help users see what resources they have, identify potential problem areas, and maximize resources.
The service can be applied to backup and recovery, file-level storage resource management (SRM), database resource management, file-system resource management, switch port utilization, data duplication, throughput, etc.
As an example, StorageTek says it recently did a storage appraisal of a customer’s compliance and archive infrastructure, which led to the implementation of an e-mail archiving product in an effort to automate the migration of e-mails and associated attachments.
StorageTek officials claim the customer, which had significant performance issues due to a limited e-mail capacity of 35MB and compliance problems, was able to reduce restore times by 94% (from 16 hours to 1 hour) and provide virtually limitless mailbox sizes to users. This customer was also reportedly able to reduce management time (per mailbox) by 10 minutes each day and defer primary storage purchases for about 18 months by using available tape capacity.
StorageTek’s new services complement the company’s existing support services, which include its TekCare support services and Enterprise Support Services (ESS).