Back to the Future

Storage adoption in telecom in future would not be merely restricted to SAN
implementation, but also involve other technologies. These would include storage
virtualization, CDR Lifecycle Management (CDR Collection, back-end archiving for
Regulatory Compliance), as well as New Services–Offerings for MMS, unified
messaging, voice mail, VoIP and DSL. Says Chugh, "In a telecom environment,
CDRs have a lifecycle; that is to say that many LoBs are involved in the CDR
collection, correlation, distribution, bill processing, data warehousing and
archiving. However, depending on the access requirements and what business
objective the data is needed for, each functional group (LOB) will look at the
value of the data differently, and hence will place different values on the
right infrastructure needed to support this data."

The goal behind storage virtualization is to isolate the server OS and its
applications from the technicalities of storage devices, thereby simplifying
media management and the allocation of storage space to each server, or host
computer. Says Avijit Basu, national sales manager-storage, HP India, "With
storage virtualization software in place, servers and their applications use
logical volumes that shield the host from the complexities of physical devices.
Storage virtualization presents the OS with logical volumes."

national sales 
HP India

The benefits of logical volumes are many. Without storage virtualization, the
host OS becomes strictly dependent on the technical characteristics of the
storage devices, with the result that apparently simple activities, such as
replacing or adding media, require stopping the host and its applications while
setting up new storage devices and copying data. By contrast, Anil Valluri of
Sun Microsystems feels that storage virtualization removes most media management
problems from host computers and gives administrators the tools to create and
connect logical volumes to application hosts, regardless of the technical
specifications or network locations of the physical storage.

The obvious advantage of storage virtualization for telecom service providers
is simplified and less expensive storage administration. Says Kumar,
"Therefore, it is not surprising that most storage vendors offer
virtualization capabilities, although significant differences exist among
solutions." A very apparent distinction is the location of the storage
virtualization logic, which can reside on host computers, on storage devices, or
on network devices, such as a switch, a router, or a dedicated computer. From a
broader perspective, storage virtualization could be the "killer
application" of networked storage, and become one of the crucial factors
driving a telco’s choice of storage vendor.

market share in telecom and BPO
revenue (in Rs/crore)
Data Systems
Others include pure software vendors like CA and Veritas
Telecom storage
revenue taken as Rs 160 crore and BPO as Rs 70 crore
Source: V&D
estimates CyberMedia Research

Telecom storage market would also be driven in the next two years by new
value added services cropping up, which every telco is trying to present as
their USP. The convergence of networks is driving carriers from voice to more IP
data-service offerings. New billing models with content-rich services create new
challenges for how content, access and usage data is collected, rated, stored
and billed. EMC storage solutions provide wireless and wireline operators with
high availability, scalability and automated software to dynamically manage
block and file level data between common storage platforms (SAN, NAS, CAS) to
meets SLA’s and protect brand identities.

Reference Information Gathers Momentum
Reference information turned out to be another hot area for telecom storage
this year. Reference information is actually the collection of digital assets of
organizations retained for active reference. These could be electronic
documents, e-mail, movies, digital X-rays, digital MRIs, product design
documents, CAD/CAM designs, historical documents, Powerpoint presentations,
check images, photos, maps amongst others. Valluri feels that the storage
requirements for "reference information," such as digital images of
documents and pictures, will far outpace the storage requirements for
traditional data, such as database information, over the next few years
especially in the telecom sector.

The common solutions that were available for reference information storage
during 2003-04 were NearStore from Network Appliances, Centera from EMC,
StorageWorks Scalable Reference SAN with NAS from HP and TotalStorage Virtual
Tape Server from IBM amongst others. The proliferation of reference information
in the telecom sector has made it increasingly clear that traditional primary
and secondary storage solutions simply do not meet all data storage needs for
telcos. Primary storage is often too expensive and needlessly fast, while
secondary storage is too slow. Recognizing this gap, most storage vendors are
now pioneering storage solutions with price/performance characteristics that
bridge the gap between traditional primary and secondary storage.

Why, and for Who?
V&D estimates CyberMedia Research

Disaster Recovery for BPOs
Disaster recovery and business continuity planning have been one of the
biggest catalysts for increasing storage implementation in the telecom sector
and even more in BPO. For most BPO operations, stringent SLAs with their clients
necessitated maintenance of a mirror site from which retrieval could be either
manual or online. Large call centers which added more facilities this year and
also set up DR sites went for large scale storage implementation with size in
the range of even reaching close to a crore. These included names like WNS,
Daksh, eFunds, Tracmail, eServe and Covergys–some of the call centers/BPO
outfits which spent heavily on storage during 2003—04.

With most BPO service providers in the country increasingly concentrating on
intelligent usage of information to derive maximum RoI, they would be compelled
to consider the advantages of implementing intelligent enterprise storage. For
most BPO companies, having a consolidated networked storage would automatically
translate into cost savings and productivity gains which in turn would further
fuel demand. What drove a large part of storage sell was the influx of data
centers and NOCs which in many cases doubled up as DR sites for both telcos and
BPO outfits.

Rajneesh De

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