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The time is right for efficient storage

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Virtual tape library (VTL) and continuous data protection (CDP) products offer operational efficiencies that may also translate into bottom-line savings. We've seen some renewed interest in VTLs, with 29% (vs. 23% last fall) of respondents using them now and 23% planning to deploy them this year. One of the reasons for the minor resurgence in VTLs may be that many of these products now incorporate deduplication technology.

CDP might benefit from more convenient deployment, too. Thirteen percent of respondents currently use CDP vs. 8% in last fall's survey.

CDP adoption received a boost when many backup application vendors integrated the capability into their suites over the past year or so. Fifteen percent of the current survey's respondents say they'll add CDP this year.

One area where our survey numbers are trending upward is outsourced backup. The "cloud" has been grabbing headlines with a seemingly endless stream of service announcements and rollouts. We first asked about outsourcing backup in our spring 2007 survey and, until now, respondents have been mostly cool to the offerings. Back in 2007, 89% said they weren't using any outsourced backup services; this time, that number has been whittled to 79%. Since last fall, the number of outsourcing users has risen from 14% to 21%. Email backup services are used the most (12%), with backup services for user files not far behind (10%); the number of users of these services has doubled or nearly doubled

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across the board (see "Increased interest in cloud backup services"). Cloud storage services can be very cost-effective, especially considering their utility nature that allows users to pay for what they need when they need it without making any capital expenditures.

Demanding times

All in all, 2009 is shaping up as a challenging year for storage professionals who will have to find creative ways to stretch their budgets, add needed capacity and ensure the safety of their data. But there are some positive signs that initiatives begun in the past aren't falling by the wayside in a withering economy.

For the first time, we received more "ayes" than "nays" when we asked if respondents had deployed storage security: 51% said they are, with most methods (encryption with appliances, at the drive or in backup apps) all gaining two or three points. In most of our surveys and interviews, encryption is consistently near the top of storage managers' to-do lists.

We conduct purchasing surveys twice a year and have found a pattern of adjustments that occur between the spring and fall, which is, no doubt, storage managers resetting priorities to the realities of doing storage in the real world. So we look forward to this fall's edition, and hope the results are just a bit more encouraging. In the meantime, some hunkering down is probably in order. "The economy has pretty much tanked a lot of what I call our 'sexy initiatives,'" said United Steelworkers' Wyatt.

BIO: Rich Castagna (rcastagna@storagemagazine.com) is Editorial Director of the Storage Media Group.

This was first published in May 2009

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