Storage Strategies - Thursday, September 16, 2004
By Jon William Toigo

Arsenal Digital: A New Take on an Old Strategy

With Arsenal Digital's service, an off-site backup company can set
itself up as an electronic vault. 

Over the last couple of months, we've enjoyed hearing Arsenal Digital
Solution's story at several conferences. On the chance that you
haven't heard about the Cary, NC-based firm (and unless you are in the
telecom business, you probably haven't), we'll clue you into them
here. (Story continues below)

The company refers to itself as a provider of "on-demand data
protection and business continuity solutions." What they are really
into is teaching telcos how to sell storage services: currently in the
area of backup, but in the future (we hope) in other aspects of storage
management, too.

Arsenal Digital has managed to do what few of the first generation
storage service providers (SSPs) failed to do at the turn of the
Millennium: survive. While the company has many of the same trappings
as earlier SSP name brands -- custom software, co-location data center
facilities, a network-based operation center, etc. -- it has something
else: a marketing plan that resonates with network service providers
and telcos.

With Voice-over-IP and cellular services eating into the profits from
traditional long distance dial-up services, and specialized competitive
local exchange carriers (CLECs) popping up like ants at a picnic, telco
stalwarts such as AT&T have been getting out of the long distance
business and showing markedly greater interest in data tone than dial
tone. That's where Arsenal comes in.

The problem with most traditional telephone companies is that they are
pretty clueless about doing anything but POTS (plain old telephone
service). Arsenal has found its home by packaging a neat set of data
backup technologies into a portal-based service that telcos can easily
re-brand and deliver to their business clientele. Arsenal Digital
makes the whole thing as drool proof as possible, and backs up the
portal with stellar service.

We aren't talking rocket science here: backups are backups and the idea
of doing them across a wide area network (WAN) traces its origins to
the days of the mainframe and channel extension (back when this
columnist was first cutting his IT teeth). With the Arsenal Digital
service, an off-site backup company can set itself up as an electronic
vault, and data can be restored either to the customer site or his
recovery site via a network as well.

Arsenal has updated this strategy with an implementation of Avamar
Technologies' commonality factoring technology, a byte compression-qua-
archive-qua-data management solution that makes the volume of data to
be backed up much, much smaller, thereby enabling even comparatively
small network pipes to be sufficient for moving Terabits of backup
data. E-vaulting, like multi-hop disk mirroring, used to be the
exclusive domain of the deep pocketed members of the Fortune 500:
telcos with Arsenal Digital's portal can now make e-vaulting available
at a price that just about every company can afford.

The value to the telco (assuming that it doesn't want to be in either
the off-site storage or recovery hot site business) is, of course, the
network connection. Storage services make the network more valuable to
the consumer, and Arsenal's primary clientele is banking on revenues
from this value-add.

What really makes the service work, however, is a combination of
quality network implementation services (the telco's domain) and
quality implementation and management services (Arsenal Digital's
domain). Thus far, this combination has resulted in over 800
successful implementations via network service providers ranging from
OpenAccess, a network services provider in Melville, NY, to Con Edison
Communications, to AT&T and NTT/Verio.

This is one win-win scenario we are happy to recommend. Ping the guys
at Arsenal Digital to find out if there is a telco in your neck of the
woods that can help you offload your backup process. One caveat,
though: it is virtually impossible to outsource a problem, so you may
want to ask for some assistance getting your backups streamlined before
you try to give the problem away.

Let me know how things work out. jtoigo@intnet.net

Copyright 2004 101communications LLC.

Questions or problems regarding this web site should be directed to abeckman@outdoorssite.com.

Copyright 2008 Art Beckman. All rights reserved.

Last Modified: March 9, 2008