A different kind of host; Carriers flood market with higher-end options, vertical services

A different kind of host; Carriers flood market with higher-end options, vertical services – Industry Trend or Event

Despite the murky financial picture for Web hosting, carriers making their annual trek to Las Vegas last week for Networld+Interop launched a flurry of new hosting services that could help restore confidence in a market that has taken plenty of hits.

Global Crossing, Cable & Wireless, Broadwing and Qwest Communications were among the carriers saying that, even with the problems afflicting companies like Exodus Communications and Digital Island, hosting is central to their efforts to move away from providing network capacity that has quickly become a commodity. Global One, which announced the opening of its first U.S. hosting center in Reston, Va., last week, envisions hosting as one of the most important elements of its business.

“Global One has always viewed hosting as clearly linked to the value-added services business,” said Tom Wyrick, vice president of market development for data/IP network services. “We’re not approaching this as a stand-alone business.”

Global One – now fully owned by France Telecom but with a distributor relationship with former partner Sprint – focuses its hosting business on providing services specifically to the largest enterprise users. Additionally, the company will market hosting as part of a package of services running over its North American network, which is expected to be complete by the end of this year (see figure).

“We won’t compete with Exodus and some of those other companies,” said Detlef Spang, Global One’s executive vice president and general manager for the North American region. “[Reston] won’t be the 200,000-square-foot center you typically see. It will be targeted specifically at the needs of the market we’re serving.”

Spang wouldn’t pinpoint the applications the company will offer but noted that Equant, which is in the process of merging with Global One, offers numerous vertically oriented hosting services.

Broadwing also targets vertical markets. Its first Optical Media Center, which opened last week in Cincinnati, provides services to the media and entertainment market, including storage management, streaming media and disaster recovery. Like Global One, Broadwing also is tying services with its network.

“What is unique, too, is that we are giving customers the ability to have burstable bandwidth,” said Tony Tomae, vice president of data and Internet services for Broadwing. That bandwidth is built in 1 Mb increments and lets customers pay on a per-megabyte basis.

Broadwing plans to open similar centers in Dallas, Santa Clara, Calif., and New York City by July 1.

On the other end of the spectrum, C & W launched a new suite of hosting services in its effort to address the needs of what it calls the “unfortunate millions” – small and medium-sized enterprises largely ignored by other carriers’ hosting groups.

Under the Managed Hosting Solutions umbrella, C & W offers three levels of service: a standard dedicated product; a mid-range service that includes higher-end application performance; and an advanced service that includes support for as many as four processors. An amalgamation of services that the company acquired from MCI, the suite is designed to help C & W enter more of a mass market for hosting.

“[The MCI services] were very boutique and focused on the higher end,” said Patrick Johnson, manager of global Web hosting and product management for C & W. “When you market it to your core business, you’ve got to give them more options and flexibility. The goal is to keep it as customizable as possible.”

As part of that process, C & W has built a sales tool that lets customers complete a survey of their needs and spits out a package of matching services.

Johnson says he isn’t as concerned about entering a market with competitors focused on hosting because most are having financial difficulty. At the same time, traditional hosting is quickly becoming a commodity.

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