ITAA Committee to Target Data Storage

Group to lobby on behalf of service providers for international regulations.

A new committee of the Information Technology Association of America announced earlier this month will target storage service providers interests and will lobby for international storage regulations and certifications, the committees chairman said.

Data storage today is seen much as data security was two years ago, said Bobby Patrick, vice president of Laurel, Md., hosting provider Digex Inc. and chairman of the ITAA Data Storage Committee. The public knows its important, but its not yet demanding personal attention, Patrick said.

Lobbying on behalf of storage service providers—which basked in a $153 million market last year and are expected to garner $10.7 billion by 2005, according to figures from International Data Corp., of Framingham, Mass.—will ultimately serve user needs, Patrick said.

Those efforts wont begin for six months, but the committee will be doing plenty to keep busy: The to-do list includes a large surveying and Webcast campaign, plus a membership drive, Patrick said.

The group will probably address hardware and software makers needs through subcommittees, he said.

The committee "has to help. ... It has to become a conduit for common concerns like security; it has to become a platform for common support and to promote interoperability, maybe even best practices," said Tony Prigmore, an analyst for Enterprise Storage Group Inc., in Milford, Mass.

But with the recent switch of focus at major storage service providers such as StorageNetworks Inc., Prigmore said, "its going to be interesting to watch how these more broadly based companies are going to do that."

According to ITAA officials in Arlington, Va., the committee had 17 members as of last week, including Digex and its parent, WorldCom Inc.; AT&T Corp.; Compaq Computer Corp.; and Exodus Communications Inc. Other members include Intel Corp., Storability Inc. and Western Digital Corp.

"We have a glorious storage problem at hand," Patrick said, referring to the ever-growing amounts of user data stored worldwide. As for a trade association helping to solve it, he said, "there has not been a committee that I know of thats had that kind of ambition."

The committee may soon have competition. According to Jason Schaffer, vice president of marketing at StorageWay Inc., the Fremont, Calif., service provider, which is not a part of the ITAAs new committee, groups similar to the ITAAs are under creation, partially by analysis companies.

Such groups would be created from scratch, not from existing storage trade associations, said Schaffer, declining to give details.