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Online Storage Poised to Take Off, IDC Predicts

The growth in online storage services will outpace conventional storage architectures for the next several years, fueled in part by the inability of IT departments to gain larger budgets or more personnel, according to a new report on storage as a service (SaaS) by research firm IDC .

IDC says SaaS capacity will grow from 174 petabytes in 2007 to more than 2.1 exabytes in 2012, a growth rate that will beat the sales growth of conventional storage technologies. Still, companies will continue to buy disks and tapes; IDC predicts the growth of hard-disk drives will continue at better than 50 percent annually.

But the continued growth in the amount of data that is being created and the longer periods of time that organizations and consumers want to retain that data will fuel a boom in online storage services for backup, archiving, and replication, Brad Nisbet, program manager for storage and data management services at IDC, told Byte and Switch. The current economic woes are a contributing factor as companies look for ways to cut costs.

IDC surveyed 812 firms and found that 59 percent of small businesses are currently evaluating SaaS, as are 44 percent of mid-sized companies and 33 percent of large companies. "It really trails off for very large companies, many of which have their own online storage services between multiple data centers," Nisbet said. "The sweet spot for these kinds of services is small and medium-sized companies."

Several factors have converged to help drive the growing interest in online storage. Companies are looking for a low-cost alternative to on-premise systems as their storage needs continue to grow. IT budgets and staffs are not growing and, in some cases, are shrinking. In addition, floor space in data centers often isn't available for more systems, and companies are becoming increasingly aware of how much power data centers are consuming to power and cool computing and storage systems.

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