McCormack, the chief technology officer at Flooz.com, the premier purveyor of online gift currency, put that tenet to practice most recently in the summer of 2000 when he led his company's investigation into the new world of storage service providers (SSPs). Built on the popular application service provider (ASP) model, SSPs are springing up around the country, offering to take on the hassle and responsibility of monitoring, maintaining, and scaling data storage needs for their clients. Their services range from simply providing additional storage capacity on an as-needed basis, to archive and retrieval services, to application-specific data enhancement services. These services are driving the emergence of the SSP market, industry analysts say. According to Adam Couture, senior analyst at Dataquest Gartner, in Lowell, Mass., this market barely existed 18 months ago. Total revenue for storage utilities in 1999 was a mere $10 million, Couture notes. That figure is expected to grow to $7.3 billion in 2003. Why now? Several pressures in the IT arena are driving the market, says Couture. "Combine the boom in data levels across the board with the shortage of storage expertise in the workforce," he says. "Then add in the confusion and lack of standards surrounding some of the most advanced storage architectures, like SANs [storage area networks], and it becomes clear the time is right for this model."
Many SSPs are positioning themselves as "storage utilities"--in other words, as a "plug-in-the-wall, take-it-for-granted, bill-me-monthly" service akin to telecom or electricity utilities. Storage on Demand New York-based Flooz, like the vast majority of companies these days, is experiencing massive data growth. And while its staff is growing at a rapid clip as well, "I knew it was time to think about the opportunity costs [associated with managing] all our data storage in-house," says McCormack. "Sure, we could invest five or six engineers into designing, building, and maintaining a new storage infrastructure, but then we'd be taking talent away from some other core project." Instead, Flooz chose to ink an agreement with StorageNetworks Inc., an SSP headquartered in Fremont, Calif. "At the time we began looking, it was clear that StorageNetworks was far and above the leader in what they do," says McCormack. "There simply weren't many offerings in this space, though I understand that there are now."
|At a Glance: Flooz.com|
|The company: New York-based Flooz.com, a purveyor of online gift currency, has 90+ employees. The challenge: Find a way to ensure that this rapidly growing business has access to a top-quality, highly reliable data storage infrastructure, without expending exorbitant internal resources. The solution: Outsource storage services to StorageNetworks Inc. at its co-location site with Exodus Communications Inc., where Flooz servers currently reside.|