A variety of vendors make data-hosting moves

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Qwest Communications, Hewlett-Packard, Intel and Storage Networks unveiled separate data-hosting plans last week that analysts say could change the way companies of all sizes acquire storage for their networks.

Qwest announced a deal with Hewlett-Packard to purchase equipment and outfit its points of presence (POP) with storage that IT managers can rent on a per-megabyte basis for Windows NT or Unix data. The company will target rapidly growing e-businesses and those that need to keep vast quantities of data online.

HP will also integrate and co-market Qwest's storage services as part of its e-services portfolio. Customers will benefit because data stored in network-hosting centers will be instantly available to users in order to assure better performance of business applications, HP claims.

Intel busy, too

Meanwhile, Intel announced the completion of two of 12 data centers that it will build worldwide. Intel will invest around $1.5 billion in the centers over the next few years so companies can store data for online use.

Storage Networks also detailed plans to provide storage and services ranging from backup to high availability for mission-critical applications.

Each company is implementing plans that will help IT managers keep up with expanding storage needs, while also saving money on capital investments.

Dave Hill, an analyst with Aberdeen Group in Boston, believes these storage plans may cause a shift in how IT managers purchase storage.

With the total market growing into the 1,000-tera-byte range, Hill says that these kinds of plans will let users consider storage as a utility -- rather than a fixed asset. Users have the option of renting the amount they need, returning storage that they don't use and getting more almost immediately.

Still some skepticism

Qwest acknowledges that IT managers remain skeptical about turning their data over to an outside party. As a result, Qwest will recommend that IT managers use storage for non-mission-critical data, such as historical data or human resources databases, until they gain trust in their providers.

Qwest plans to implement storage networks using its OC-192 lines, HP's SureStore E Array XP256 storage subsystem, the HP SAN Manager, HP's switch and a variety of HP software and hardware in as many as 14 POPs this year. It expects to add $1.5 billion in revenue to its coffers by late 2002.

Neither Qwest nor Storage Networks was willing to disclose the prices for their services and storage, saying that the prices will vary depending upon the customer's needs. Qwest's storage and services will be available in the fourth quarter. Storage Networks' storage services are available now.

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