Lucent Technologies is set to launch a hosted storage service in about two months' time. The company is running a trail with a client in the US and is hoping to offer the service to other customers following a successful completion of the trial.

The pilot service, hosted at Lucent's network operations centre in Denver, Colorado, is a logical extension of the company's business model, which already includes the provision of a number of other hosted services, said John Meyer, president of the company's worldwide services division.

Lucent has used its own optical networking equipment to link storage systems from EMC to the customer's premises. "It's generic storage. We are linking the customer's applications to the storage center and back," Meyer said. "Our intention is to take this and expand it to multiple clients."

Centralising the management and hosting of storage systems has become economical because the cost of data communications has fallen, he said.

The approach is of interest in two cases, Meyer said. Lucent is able to realise economies of scale in hosting low-value storage services, enabling it to offer them for a lower price than businesses would pay to build and manage storage themselves. In other situations, Lucent is able to offer customers a way to gradually adopt a new technology, without having to build an entire infrastructure themselves from day one. If the technology is needed for the launch of a new service, "Marketing people want it to happen straight away," but technical staff want to see volume demand for the service before paying for the infrastructure, Meyer said.

Lucent began working with EMC on the offer around three months ago, he said. One obstacle they encountered was the way EMC motivates its sales staff: it was difficult getting EMC to change the commission plan for its sales staff so as to encourage them to sell the service, rather than boxes, Meyer said.

The company is also developing a hosted VOIP telephony service for network operators. In Europe, Italian company Enterprise Digital Architects SpA will host the service and offer it to European businesses. In the US, Lucent will host the service at its Denver network operations center on behalf of US service providers, who will then resell the VOIP services to their customers.

Lucent will announce a US operator customer for the VOIP hosting service next month, Meyer said.