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There will soon be a new and unlikely storage company in town - Lucent.

The networking company has confirmed that it has a hosted storage service pilot program underway. Lucent has set up a data center in tandem with EMC that provides storage systems and networking gear to customers. The pilot could go live as an actual service within two months.

"That's one of the many different hosted services opportunities that the business is looking to put together," said Lucent spokesman Rich Teplitsky. "This type of SAN (storage area network) service is something we have worked on for awhile."

Lucent first revealed word of this storage service at CeBIT where an IDG News Service reporter caught wind of the plan. At this time, Lucent is reluctant to provide much more detail other than to say EMC will supply the storage gear, and it will supply some optical networking hardware. Customers will basically tap into a Lucent-run SAN and have Lucent manage their applications.

"It's generic storage," John Meyer, president of Lucent's worldwide services division told IDG. "We are linking the customer's applications to the storage center and back. Our intention is to take this and expand it to multiple clients."

Lucent already provides managed services in the areas of VoIP, networking and security, Teplitsky said.

Storage would seem to be a weird extension for Lucent in some ways. The market for managed storage is already quite full and companies such as Sun Microsystems and IBM - with more direct ties to storage kit - have made hosted storage a priority of late.

Lucent's networking expertise, however, could come in handy as storage systems, servers and switches start to blend together. The company is also in need of new business, due to the painfully shrinking telco equipment market.

For a funny managed services blast from the past, check out how Lucent, Sun, IBM and EMC were going to address the $133bn CyberCarrier market back in 2000. ®

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