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Data storage priorities 2010: data backup, capacity growth and disaster recovery

Our Storage Priorities for 2010 survey finds adding data backup, keeping up with capacity growth and disaster recovery as the most urgent considerations of data storage managers. Solid-state storage, cloud storage and continuous data protection are also concerns.

The top three data storage priorities for 2010 are data backup (48%), adding capacity (37%) and disaster recovery (DR) (36%). This is according to enterprise data storage managers responding to's Storage Priorities for 2010 survey. In fact, in the three years we've fielded the survey, those have been among the top three priorities for each coming year. However, data deduplication for primary storage, solid-state storage and cloud storage are quickly gaining ground.

As storage managers begin to dig themselves out of a blizzard of lousy economic news, they're likely to find themselves facing the same capacity demands that shaped their plans before their budgets went into the deep freeze. They expect to add an average of 45 TB of new disk capacity this year, according to the survey. That's approximately 6 TB more than they anticipated adding a year ago when the economic repercussions were not yet fully felt.

Large and smaller businesses alike will feel the capacity crunch. Bigger organizations -- those with revenue exceeding $1 billion -- plan to add nearly 80 TB of fresh disk space, while companies with less than $100 million in revenue will add another 25 TB of capacity to their disk inventories.

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Storage budgets will grow – modestly in many cases – to help keep up with new capacity demands. Respondents indicate an overall average rise of 3.2% for their 2010 budgets compared to last year. Forty-five percent said they expect their budgets to increase by at least 5%.

Playing catch-up with capacity tends to create a ripple effect through storage environments, affecting nearly everything from data protection to new technology implementations. But that's not to suggest that storage managers will just be trying to catch their breath in 2010 -- most still have fairly ambitious to-do lists involving some of the newest storage technologies available.

Solid-state storage, data deduplication for primary systems top disk priorities

While dishing up new disk to meet those capacity demands might take precedence, storage managers are gung-ho about a couple of cutting edge data storage technologies: solid-state storage and data deduplication for primary systems. Approximately 7% of respondents said they use solid-state storage, but 14% said they have implementation plans for solid state on their 2010 calendars. Add to that the nearly 40% who said they'll evaluate solid-state storage this year and it's clear that data storage managers have gotten beyond the dollar-per-gigabyte comparisons with hard disks and are ready to reap the performance, conservation and space benefits of solid state.

Interest in primary data deduplication is even stronger as storage managers struggle to gain an upper hand on capacity growth. Data deduplication for backup has been the hottest storage technology for a couple of years, although our surveys indicate that implementation is still fairly modest with approximately 20% to 25% of enterprise data storage shops using it. However, that hasn't dampened interest in applying the same techniques to primary or nearline storage. On the Storage Priorities survey, 17% are currently deduping at least some of their non-backup storage, and another 20% have set their sights on adding it in 2010. And like solid state, another 40% will give it a serious look and evaluate it in the coming year.

And while squeezing out every bit of capacity may be the top priority, squeezing a few bucks out of the electric bill doesn't seem to be quite as important. While 54% said that power conservation is important to them when buying disk systems -- 6 points higher than last year -- only 12% said it's important enough to determine a final product choice.

Cloud storage under serious consideration

With just about every storage vendor purporting to offer a cloud storage service or product, you might expect that storage managers' eyes would be glazed over from all the hype. That might have been true a year ago, but our survey shows that they're taking it quite seriously now.

Current usage is still almost non-existent, with only 4% using a cloud service for some of their primary or online storage needs. Another 9% plan a leap into the cloud this year, with 27% saying they'll give it a careful look. Although there's been a fair amount of confusion about what constitutes "internal cloud storage," apparently a few have figured it out: 7% have one and 9% plan to bring the cloud into their shops in 2010.

Interest in using cloud services for data protection is a bit more cautious, with 3% to 4% noting that they're using a cloud storage service for data archiving, disaster recovery or backup. And for each of those disciplines, another 5% to 6% said they'll rely on cloud-based services this year.

Dedupe tops data protection wish list, but CDP and data archiving rising

With two of the three overall top storage priorities related to data protection, it's no surprise that storage managers are focusing on backup and DR. Data deduplication continues to be the likeliest new technology to be added to backup operations, with 61% either deploying or evaluating it on top of the 23% current dedupe users. This is the third straight year data deduplication for backup has topped storage managers' data protection wish lists.

After dedupe, interest was evenly spread across four technologies -- continuous data protection (CDP), data archiving, backup for virtual servers and remote replication -- with each garnering 46% to 49% of respondents planning implementations or evaluations. Among already in-use data protection technologies, replication was the highest (36%), with backup software for virtual servers close behind (32%). The virtual server backup number is particularly interesting, as it suggests that users have begun to implement backup software with specific features for virtual server environments.

Disk continues to elbow tape out of the backup picture, although we're seeing more of a nudge than a shove. Fifty-six percent of respondents said they won't buy any tape hardware in 2010, while 24% said a tape library purchase was planned (down five points from last year). On the flip side, 42% said they would add a new storage array to the backup environment, while another 31% plan to build up existing backup disk systems with additional disk drives. Only 26% have no plans to buy any backup disk hardware.

Survey demographics

The Storage Priorities for 2010 survey was fielded in early December 2009. The 360 respondents embodied a broad range of industries, with the highest representation in financial/banking (12%), government (12%), healthcare/pharmaceuticals (11%) and computer services/consulting (10%).

All sizes of companies were represented: 33% had annual revenue greater than $1 billion, 25% had revenue of $100 million to $1 billion, and 42% had revenue of less than $100 million.

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