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6/15/2011
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The Storage Problem You Can't Ignore

Surrounded by data? Growing storage without end? Demands from users for fast access? Endless retention policies? Here's how to cope.

It's not news that storage is swamping IT budgets. Our 2011 InformationWeek Analytics State of Storage Survey shows the amount of actively managed storage expanding at around 20% per year. In our practice, we work with a few companies dealing with growth levels in excess of 50%. At this rate, most data centers double storage capacity requirements every two to three years. And as employees start using multiple mobile devices and consumer applications for work, that estimate could be conservative.

In our first InformationWeek Analytics Public Cloud Storage Survey, fielded in April, 59% of respondents using, planning to adopt, or assessing public cloud storage services called out email as the application most responsible for storage growth, followed by increasing demand from new or planned applications (58%). Seventy-six percent said they're somewhat or very concerned about storage costs, and most CIOs we speak with insist they're actively seeking to reduce those expenditures while still keeping data available. So you can imagine our surprise that, when asked exactly what they're spending per gigabyte, nearly half our survey respondents said they have no clue. They have data retention policies, but enforcement is all over the map. When we asked about strategies that could lower storage costs, we got a virtual yawn: Just 10% plan to use external storage services within the next two years. Only half are taking advantage of storage virtualization. Sixty-one percent either make do with the management tools provided by their storage vendors (53%) or don't actively manage storage resources at all (8%).

Let's be clear: No vendor is going to show up with a multifunction storage uber-solution that will save us from ourselves. Among our enterprise clients, storage volume growth is outstripping the dropping price of physical media--limiting IT innovation as costs go through the roof.

We must do the hard work of figuring out the right mix of policies and technologies to balance access, performance vs. capacity, security, and short- and long-term costs. We must figure out what, exactly, we're paying per gigabyte for internal storage so we can do an intelligent total-cost-of-ownership analysis of not only various cloud service alternatives, but also new technologies like solid-state drives, deduplication, and storage virtualization. Is Fibre Channel your future, or is it time to move to Ethernet? Do you need to revisit your tiering strategy? CIOs must look three to five years out and make sure their purchases today align with their long-term strategies. And clearly, you can't do that if you don't have a strategy.

Changing Dynamics Beyond Services

Become an InformationWeek Analytics subscriber and get our full report on cloud storage.

This report includes 36 pages of action-oriented analysis packed with 19 charts. What you'll find:
  • Top-rated vendors in cloud storage and storage resource management
  • Priority ratings of 17 cloud storage features
  • Analysis of service offerings from Amazon, EMC, and others
  • 14 drivers of storage growth
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Illustration by Nick Rotondo

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