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Storage Survey: Cloud Storage Use Up, But Integration Still Sought

A supplier of an object storage system asked 409 IT managers how hybrid cloud storage use was progressing. The answer: with some difficulties.

Storage is one of the primary drivers of hybrid cloud adoption. According to a survey by object storage system provider, Cloudian, 68% of IT decision makers surveyed in early November have already adopted or plan to implement within a year a form of public cloud storage to complement their existing on-premises storage.

The share that have already done so was 28%, with another 40% planning to do so within the next 12 months. The most frequent driver is use of cloud storage for backup purposes -- in use by 64% or planned to be pressed into use in the next 12 months. By moving backup data into the cloud, the IT manager gets, not just another copy of his data, but one in a data center different from his own, and thus insulated from a disaster or failure that might strike his own.

On the other hand, 13% said they planned to adopt cloud storage but in a timeframe more than 12 months out, while 19% said they had no plans to adopt a cloud storage system to function in a hybrid fashion with an on-premises system.

The sample size was relatively small, 409 IT decision makers in the U.S. and the UK, who were asked 16 questions about their storage plans. Cloudian is a supplier of an on-premises object storage system that is compatible with Amazon Web Services S3 storage service. It conducted the survey to find out how prospective customers viewed their potential use of cloud storage. The report on the results can be freely downloaded here.

[See how cloud storage leads toward a 'thinner' data center. Read The Thinning Of The Data Center.]

At the same time, Cloudian acknowledged there was confusion over the term cloud storage in the survey, with some respondents referring to OneDrive or DropBox as forms of cloud storage, which they are, even though one of their primary purposes is file synchronization and sharing rather than large scale enterprise storage. Forty percent counted storage that they get with Salesforce SaaS or Microsoft Office 365 as cloud storage as well.

About a third, however, are using an on-premises appliance that is attached to a cloud storage service and provides a means of queuing traffic and speeding up exchanges between on-premises and the cloud storage system. The appliance is generally known as a cloud storage gateway.

The Cloudian report on the survey concluded that organizations are using cloud storage for specific applications and purposes, such as file sharing, email, and data backup. "But they continue to struggle when it comes to more general purpose storage needs as it relates to cloud," and only 18% are using an on-premises application that leverages cloud storage in some way, the report said.

In addition to data backup, respondents named other uses for a hybrid storage system: Web infrastructure was cited by 52%; application development and test, 48%; technical applications, 43%; media and entertainment, 21%; and medical data, 21%.

Security and cost concerns remain the primary brakes on adopting hybrid cloud storage systems at a faster pace. Sixty-two percent of respondents said security in the cloud was a top concern, with cost coming in second at 55%.

Fifty-nine percent said they had data that could not be migrated to the cloud now or in the future, and that data represented 47% of the total. It included corporate financial data, customer records, research data, email, file shares and other collaboration data.

Other concerns were management complexity of hybrid storage system, interoperability with other systems, and the skill sets needed to use cloud storage listed as well.

When it came to global thinking about on-premises plus cloud storage, Cloudian found most respondents hadn't moved off the application by application approach to the cloud. There was no emerging consensus on what a hybrid system designed to work together for multiple purposes looks like, it acknowledged.

When it asked the respondents who used no cloud storage what interface they would want for a hybrid system, "the respondents simply did not know what they would choose." That sample was the smallest of the respondent groupings, 25.

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Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer