Seems like IT is always in a state of transition, and storage is no exception. Out: the treadmill of simply adding capacity to keep up with data growth. In: a smart management strategy that takes into account everything from data security and environmental concerns to disaster recovery and is in lockstep with the evolving needs of the business.
Sure, adding more capacity and I/O performance as the organization demanded it was a reasonable approach over the past decade or so. But the consequences have finally caught up with us: a massive waste of money, power, and data center floor space to maintain storage systems that all too often house data that at best isn't useful to the organization and at worst represents a liability in terms of potential litigation.
In our recent InformationWeek Analytics State Of Storage survey, fielded in conjunction with ByteAndSwitch.com, 79% of respondents have double-digit levels of data growth (see chart, "What's The Annual Growth Rate for the Overall Data Set You Store and Manage?" below).
Now the challenge is breaking our addiction to the "disk is cheap" ethos even as we struggle to keep up with these growth rates. Moving from simply meeting all storage demands to actively managing business requests is immensely complicated, but it must be done. You can't afford not to: The power used by data centers has doubled over the past five years while the national average rate for electricity has jumped 44% since 2004. Piling on more disk capacity, with the attendant costs, is no longer tenable. In response, some enterprises have begun figuring out what they're storing, classifying its value, then deleting unneeded data and relegating rarely used files to less expensive storage. Yes, this requires organizational buy-in and is a "personality-intensive" process that no technologist relishes. But if you haven't started on this path, there's no smarter resolution.
We did get a few surprises from the 328 business technology professionals who responded to our poll. Seventy percent wrestle with regulatory issues. No bombshell there. But security was cited by 51% as the No. 1 data storage concern, an interesting trend. Tied for second were two old standbys: budget woes and the perennial lack of sufficient disaster-recovery planning and preparedness. Respondents are spending a significant amount of time researching new storage capabilities and best practices, including virtualization and data reduction tools.
Still, despite skepticism, data storage is a growth market. Areas of opportunity identified by our survey and interviews include a continued focus on backups and disaster recovery, acceptance of the need for internal IT policy around data disposition, heightened attention to security, and a burgeoning software and services market to aid in storage management.
Steve Delahunty is a senior associate at Booz Allen Hamilton. He currently provides IT program management for Department of Defense clients. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org