As data-storage needs continue to surge, some companies are turning to storage service providers (SSPs) ­ vendors that provide managed storage and/or hosted storage for businesses ­ as the answer to their prayers.

SSPs offer a viable alternative to pricey, space-consuming data-storage systems and complex storage area networks (SANs). Additionally, because SSPs provide storage-management expertise, companies don't have to worry about training and retaining skilled storage personnel. It's considered a nascent market today, but one that is expected to grow to between $5 billion and $8 billion by 2003/2004, according to various estimates.

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