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Survey: Business growth, not compliance, drives enterprise data storage expansion

A data center manager survey says storage requirements are fueled by business growth rather than increased regulations, and finds cloud computing adoption despite industry hype.

Business growth is a far greater driver of expanded enterprise data storage demands than government regulations for keeping data, according to a survey conducted by AFCOM, a trade association of data center professionals. The survey also revealed few cloud computing implementations despite high industry buzz.

Of the 436 data center professionals surveyed, 77.5% said business growth is driving increased storage requirements, and only 8.3% indicated government regulations drove increased storage capacity.

Eighty-three percent of the survey respondents were U.S.-based, and 20% were responsible for a budget of $10 million or more.

The survey also confirmed that data growth is widespread among IT operations, with 63% saying their storage requirements increased dramatically over the past five years, and 35% reporting moderate or slight storage requirements (the survey did not ask for quantitative numbers). Only 2% said their storage needs decreased.

As for new technology adoption, 72.9% said they've adopted virtual processing, 70.4% said they've turned to the Web for at least some of their applications needs, 54.8% said they've adopted automation technologies in the data center, 50% said they use clustered computing, and only 14.9% said they are using some form of cloud computing.

That actually showed less interest in the cloud than in a March AFCOM survey when 77.3% said they did not expect to increase their use of cloud computing this year – despite a great deal of hype over the cloud in the past year.

"I was very surprised to see that so few data centers were adopting [cloud computing] given the state of the economy," AFCOM CEO Jill Eckhaus said.

Eckhaus said the result prompted her to begin an AFCOM research project on cloud computing's myths and realities. She expects to release the results of that survey at AFCOM's next Data Center World conference in March.

Respondents also said they've implemented storage area networks (SANs) over network-attached storage (NAS) by a nearly 2-1 ratio, with 77.1% saying they have SANs compared to 41.7% with NAS.

Eckhaus said she was startled by the industry's lack of preparedness for cyberterrorism attacks, especially the lack of disaster recovery plans. While 60.9% of the respondents recognized the threat cyberterrorism presents, only 34.4% have included cyberterrorism-attacks in their DR plans, and only 24.4% address cyberterrorism in their policies and procedures manuals. Interestingly enough, only 60.2% even have a policies and procedures manual.

Eckhaus said that her experience talking with AFCOM members at the association's conferences has taught her that not enough data center managers even have a DR plan, although that question was not included in the October survey.

"When I talk to my members and I ask them about disaster recovery, it tends to fall to the wayside when they're having budget problems," she said. Eckhaus added that the data center managers she's interviewed say "they think they have a plan in place, but they haven't followed up. You need to continually update and test your plan."

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