gen-i launches NZ storage outsourcing service

Published: Wed 18 Apr 2001 10:06 AM
gen-i launches first NZ storage outsourcing service
April 17, 2001 – Internet integrator gen-i has launched New Zealand’s first outsourced storage service – promising to deliver “storage on-demand” capabilities was announced today.
gen-i and Auckland-based high bandwidth network services provider Tangent have formed a partnering agreement to provide remotely housed secure storage facilities. Customers will rent storage space from gen-i on a per-gig-per-month basis.
The service is designed to give medium to large-businesses access to storage services and infrastructure similar to that usually only found in the country’s largest companies.
gen-i has also entered into a services agreement with CLEAR Communications to provide nationwide service outside the areas covered by Tangent.
Data Outsourcing and Storage Services manager Steve Osborn said “The storage strategy of many companies during the last two years has been to add more and more disk space, instead of dealing with the major problem of storage management.
“So far it’s been the cheaper and softer option. It would be fair to say that for most organisations, only 40% of the data stored is ever accessed on a regular basis. It’s like the tip of an Iceberg the other 60% is unseen, usually unmanaged and probably either not required or impacting the performance of operational systems.
General admin such as backing up, restoring and archiving quickly becomes a logistical nightmare. “This initiative is all about providing a real business based solution to the disaster waiting to happen”, Osborn said.
This gen-i initiative is the first example of a Storage Service Provider (SSP) in New Zealand, designed to overcome spiralling storage demands, currently growing at around 70 percent a year.
Osborn has led a team that has worked on the project for the last year, carrying out market research and investigating SSP operations in the United States and Europe.
gen-i says the services provided under the SSP banner are aimed at medium to large companies with data intensive requirements.
“This gives these companies something they have never had before – enterprise size storage management delivered at a prices they can afford. The catch to these types of remote services has always been bandwidth and access, our key enabler is keeping the clients Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) as low as possible with the ability to move enterprise sized data over networks at near Internet prices,” Osborn said.
Companies can also elect to rent or buy storage. Service costs fall into three categories: direct storage costs, communications charges, and gen-i professional services such as Enterprise Management Services (EMS), Archiving, Failover, and Disaster recovery
Storage costs are priced at $80 per Gigabyte-per month. There is a minimum storage of 50Gb for NT systems and 100Gb for Unix. For their $80, clients get storage space, rapid recovery, virus checking of data, and management of their environment at a “light’s on, fans running” level. Other services are available as part of the overall Managed Services Provision (MSP) offering within the various Data Centres.
“Our research showed clearly that we needed an excellent telco infrastructure and a stable, performant technology platform that could provide a low TCO for our clients. To achieve this we had to secure high bandwidth (100MB to 1GB availability) but at a lower cost than was currently available otherwise the service would not be viable.”
“The reason this project will be a success is the strong relationship we have with Tangent and CLEAR. The biggest obstacle to making these services a success in the past has been the inability of telco’s to take off their voice hats and understand what is required to shift data. In CLEAR and Tangent we have found partners who have a good understanding of our needs and those of our customers.”
From a Storage platform perspective, gen-i has developed considerable depth and experience in the deployment of Storage solutions and it seemed obvious to us that we should leverage that relationship, electing to use Network Appliance as our primary Storage partner.
Several key factors made this an easy decision; the product performance and ease of integration combined with the low overall TCO. Each of these is a major factor in our ability to take the SSP model to market.
The gen-i approach separates the client’s major Application servers and their data storage from their in house environment, replacing internal networks with an extended virtual network (VLAN) into the Data Centre, running at speeds equal to or exceeding their original network. By making this separation, gen-i can offer all of the services required to proactively manage the clients’ data whilst preserving system performance.
There are some integration and architecture services required to migrate the clients’ data into our environment, but in general those are minimal. “The changeover process is not disruptive and actually quite straightforward. With planning, we can make the relevant changeover during a weekend if required,” Osborn said.
Tangent General Manager Jill Garing says the project is a natural extension of the company’s existing business.
“We are constantly looking at ways we can add value to our fibre-optic infrastructure. Our core business is providing fibre-optic solutions to businesses on the Auckland isthmus and this project is consistent with that philosophy.
“Tangent is in the position of being able to offer tele-housing services. We’re well ahead with our infrastructure capability and are open-minded to wider applications for the technology,” she said.
In addition to the fibre-optic network, Tangent hosts the actual tele-housing site.
The service’s first targeted customer, law firm Bell Gully, is in the final stages of qualification for the service.
A proponent of Storage service provision is IT consultant and former Bell Gully IT manager Nick Burke. Burke said an SSP treated storage as a commodity. “I want to be able to buy storage in the same way that I buy electricity. That means I can get what I pay for and I’m not required to manage or provide for complex and expensive facilities.”
gen-i is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cullen Investments Limited. gen-i's blue chip clients include Air New Zealand Qantas, Department of Corrections, Department of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, National Australia Bank, New Zealand Dairy Board, Simpson Grierson and WestpacTrust.
About gen-i
gen-i limited is the first and largest New Zealand-based e-business Internet integrator, focussing on designing, building, implementing and supporting e-business solutions and systems for large corporate customers. With over 400 people at offices in major centres in New Zealand, gen-i extends customer support worldwide – both online and through a network of service partners.
gen-i has four major areas of focus and expertise: Infrastructure, Ventures, fieldForce and Procurement. gen-i Infrastructure is geared to providing and supporting all the hardware, software and networks required for today’s e-business – and to achieve that in a number of new ways. gen-i Ventures is an Internet innovation operation geared to providing knowledge and experience in building e-commerce sites, Intranets, extranets and implementing and supporting a wide range of e-business & traditional applications. gen-i Field Force is New Zealand’s leading technology engineering onsite capability, expertly trained and ready to deploy or maintain the country’s leading technology networks. gen-i Procurement provides a fast, easy and cost-effective way to select, purchase, install and maintain office technologies.
Prior to its name change in 2000, gen-i traded successfully for more than 20 years as Wang New Zealand.
About Tangent:
Tangent is the leading provider of high-speed fibre optic network and data services for Auckland businesses. Covering an area of 950 square kilometres, the Tangent network is designed to provide maximum scalability, high bandwidth capacity and diverse cabling routes to meet existing and emerging market requirements. In addition to its fibre optic network
services, Tangent offers disaster recovery, telehousing and intelligent building solutions for call centres, property owners and companies looking to secure network service equipment. Tangent is a wholly owned subsidiary of Vector Ltd, Auckland's electricity distribution company. Tangent's fibre optic cables run parallel to Vector's electricity lines. The Tangent
network, which has been operational since November 2000, was built in accordance with Datacraft network specifications, uses IP protocol and Cisco's word class switches.

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