The SAN Services Opportunity

/**/ /**/

John Dusek, president and owner of Convergent Storage Solutions, Apple Valley, Minn., on service opportunities:

LOOK AT APPLICATIONS: The SAN is just one component of a total solution. Services opportunities in the channel depend on how SANs intersect with things like Active Directory. And with applications, there's lots of services opportunities. For example, Exchange eats up more and more data over time. People are sloppy in how they implement Exchange. They save a lot of e-mails. We come in and put best business practices in place. Half the time, customers need a SAN.

LOOK AT INFRASTRUCTURE: We also look at the customer's infrastructure. A lot of networks have been built up piece-by-piece over the years. It's sort of like a house that has been built over the years. And storage is like a garage space. We are giving the customer more garage space. But we are also helping them make better use of it.

BACK IT UP: Once the customer starts functioning with a SAN, we need to look at the next step of evolution, which is how to back up the data. We need to look at the best media to use. The good news is, a SAN puts all the storage under one GUI. It's easier to manage. But the bad news is, it's all under one system. So if there's a problem, you can lose all the data. So you need to look at disaster recovery.

CONSIDER OFF-SITE: The best practices can help with storage, but then you have to ask what happens if the building goes away. So you need replication. Most companies don't have an off-site data center. We rent a space in the XO Communications data center to provide remote backup service. Not as many customers take advantage of it as they should. We see this as the next evolution of the SAN. It takes awhile for a small business to invest and take the next stage.

Sponsored post

GO DISK-TO-DISK: We do a lot of disk-to-disk backups. Replication is great, but if there is a problem on one side, it can be replicated to both sides. For disaster avoidance, we use disk-to-disk backups so we have point-in-time copies. Customers can afford it, but they'll need to readjust their budgets. They already are spending money on tapes, on disk and on having someone handle all that. We sometimes send an 8-track tape to a CIO and ask him if he would want to back up his company's data to this technology. This gimmick seems to work.

—Interview by Joseph F. Kovar