Case Study – A New Breed of SSP

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An example of the evolution of the storage marketplace is GlassHouse Technologies, a Framingham, Mass.-based storage consultancy and solution provider. The company was founded in 2001 by Mark Shirman. Shirman, a veteran of Cambridge Technology Partners, believed that there was a place in the market for a firm focused on helping clients develop and leverage best practices around storage management. "We specialize in helping clients optimize their current storage infrastructure by building the disciplines of process, procedure and best practices into the storage management space," says Shirman. "Our ultimate goal is to help clients identify and reduce the total cost of ownership for storage assets. Software tools help us achieve this goal," says Shirman.

As part of this strategy, the company organized around business practices and storage disciplines rather than vendors or technology. The firm's business includes both strategy and design consulting for infrastructure, as well as implementation and custom application development work involving packaged storage software. The company has the ability not only to deploy storage software but to address change management issues such as training and process re-engineering to achieve complete solutions for the client. Often application development work and scripting are required to link new software into existing systems or leverage existing software to improve the total view of storage in the enterprise.

Today, one of the company's most successful practices involves data backup and recovery. Consultants use tools from companies like Bocada, VERITAS and Tivoli to analyze and optimize a client's backup and recovery strategy. The company is often brought in by storage software vendors to work through the complex issues of designing, sizing and deploying an enterprise-wide backup and recovery strategy. These relationships with storage software vendors have become important to the firm's growth.

"Leveraging storage management software is a key part of our growth strategy," according to Richard Scannell, vice president of corporate development and strategy at GlassHouse Technologies. "Consultants leverage storage resource management software first to collect data from client environments, then to redesign processes and train the client how to manage storage infrastructure more effectively."

In assessing the potential success of companies like GlassHouse, Tony Prigmore, senior analyst, Enterprise Storage Group, says, "The GlassHouse business model is well-suited to help end users extract business value from storage technology."

It is this type of holistic approach , addressing not only technology and cost, but also business requirements and organizational issues , that will be key to getting end users comfortable with implementing complex storage management software.

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