Hostway has launched a managed storage service in Europe where users pay per-gigabyte.

The company says it can be used to purchase storage area network (SAN) or network-attached storage (NAS) capacity instead of customers having to implement their own NAS or SAN infrastructure. Starting at just a few pounds per month, the system works on Pillar's Axiom storage system.

John Lang, Hostway's head of systems, said: "Businesses need a way to manage their storage that is flexible enough to respond to their changing needs, yet allows them to trim their storage costs by only paying for the capacity they actually need right now, not the capacity they might ‘grow into’ in two years time."

Because the Pillar Axiom System offers multiple tiers of service levels within the same system, Hostway’s customers will be able to choose the level of service most appropriate to their needs. For example, high performance for frequently used business critical data like databases, through to medium, low and archiving. They can also purchase a replication service to other sites for disaster recovery.

Pillar sales head Chris Jones said of the service: "It will be aimed at businesses contemplating outsourcing their IT, giving them a way to reduce running costs, such as ever increasing power requirements, and will allow staff to focus on core needs of the business."

Hostway offers service level agreements (SLAs) for the storage but not for the network links which the customer has to provide separately. It is similar to a wide area file system (WAFS) set-up in that files and block data are accessed over a wide area network (WAN) link. File open time across a WAN can be lengthy.

Mark Lewis, Riverbed's marketing director, said: "Organisations that use managed services also benefit from wide area data services (WAFS) technology. For example, pay-per-gigabyte costs could be drastically reduced. With the advent of companies such as Riverbed with its Wide Area data Services (WDS), many organisations across the globe have been able to reduce traffic travelling across the WAN and also eliminate much of the associated application or transport protocol chattiness"

Pricing is on a sliding scale according to the level of storage performance and functionality required. For 500GB SAN storage with 50GB on high, 50GB on medium, 50GB on low and the rest archived the cost would be approximately £2,200 per month. It could rise to £25,000 per month for a 5TB SAN in the UK, a 5TB NAS in Germany, and a disaster recovery facility.