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StorageNetworks Launches High-Capacity Global Cacheing

Storage service provider StorageNetworks Inc announced a new set of services today, adding a globally distributed storage service to support delivery of audio and video files, as well as enhancements to existing service offerings.

"StorageNetworks is building the storage system for the largest computer in the world - the Internet," said Bill Miller, co-founder, EVP and CTO of StorageNetworks.

StorageNetworks operates a global network of data centres dedicated to providing storage as a utility service. It operates a private high-speed fibre network that links its storage data centers throughout key geographic locations worldwide.

The highlight of the announcements was the new Storwidth family of services, which the company said creates the worlds first distributed storage platform, based on its global network.

"As end user access to the Internet increases in speed, there's an increasing demand for rich content to be available for customers. There's a need to move that information out to the edge," VP marketing Bruce Gordon told ASP-News in an analyst briefing earlier this month.

Storwidth services are designed specifically to support delivery of large audio and media files that are too large for conventional edge cacheing distribution networks. The service offerings are intended to grow in step with the increasingly rapid data demands of rich media and content distribution providers, whose storage requirements may begin with several terabytes and scale quickly into petabytes of storage across multiple data centres around the globe.

The first service, which becomes available later this quarter, is a high capacity storage designed to work with client companies' own content distribution management systems. It will provide storage for one to two terabytes of data, replicated across typically seven to ten copies spread around the globe.

The second service, which comes into operation later this year, adds StorageNetworks' own distribution software intelligence and network connectivity to create a managed, intelligently distributed storage platform for clients' applications. "The Internet which many people use for replicating web pages is really not efficiently designed for moving large objects," said Gordon.

Examples would include a dot-com company that offers web-based file hosting or management services, or a streaming media services company that seeks to leverage private networking and managed, replicated storage in multiple locations.

The service differs from existing network cacheing services such as Akamai by storing data on distributed storage rather than waiting until demand from users prompts the delivery of content out to network caches. "For some of the content distribution companies, all this does is offload from them the back-end storage piece," said Gordon.

A further announcement was an addition to StorageNetworks' family of Networks Attached Storage (NAS) services. The 'snapshot' service stores a copy of a customers primary data source for easy near-time file restoration and testing. It completes the provider's family of NAS services, which allow data access from multiple servers. The NAS portfolio is already popular with application service providers, including GeoNet Energy Services, Inc, which operates an application portal for the oil and gas industry.

The final announcement was an upgrade to StorageNetworks' Virtual Storage Portal, a console that allows customers to view and manage the storage services provided to them. The new version adds the ability to monitor Service Level Agreements (SLAs), interactive communications relating to service and provisioning , and the ability to generate usage-based billing and charge-back reports.

Other new features include service status alerts and audit logs, near real-time event polling, multiple time zone reporting,