Framingham, Mass. - Companies ranging from regionals to multinationals will spend 2006 wringing more efficiency from their data storage infrastructures and holding down costs through information lifecycle management (ILM) rather than improving security, according to the "2006 Storage Budget Survey" released by GlassHouse Technologies, a provider of enterprise storages services.Despite a rash of high-profile security failures in 2005, nearly 100 companies in every size category--with storage budgets from less than $10 million to $150 million and above --ranked improving their storage infrastructure usage as either their first or second concern.

Controlling unit costs was a close second among priorities and controlling replication costs was third, putting cost containment far out in front of every other storage issue. Most companies only use about 25% of their current storage capacity, yet continue to add capacity as a hedge against rising data volumes.

ILM--actively managing data from the moment it is created until it's no long needed, rather than passively warehousing it forever - is seen as a path to lower storage costs through better resource allocation, according to the survey's results.

The survey also revealed that storage is becoming its own realm in the IT world, separate from related areas such as networking and applications. Most companies with storage costs of more than $10 million treat storage as a separate budget item from other IT expenditures.

Ninety percent of companies with storage expenses higher than $150 million gave storage a separate budget, and 50% to 75% of smaller companies did the same. Companies with lower storage costs still tend to combine IT and other expenses--80%, according to the survey.

In 2005 alone, major companies such as Marriot International, People's Bank, Ameritrade and ABN AMRO Mortgage Group reported they lost backup tapes containing customers' personal information--names, addresses, Social Security numbers, etc.

Nevertheless, the "2006 Storage Budget Survey" shows a continuing reliance on backup tapes. In addition to their vulnerability to theft and loss, tapes become an unreliable source for recovering a production environment when there are too many of them to handle. Companies depending on backup tapes to continue business after a catastrophic loss or a natural disaster will quickly discover that it's not physically possible to get their business processes running again within days or even weeks.

Among other findings in the survey:

  • As many as 40% of respondents do not replicate their data off-site for disaster recovery.
  • Most companies don't fully factor personnel and environmental costs into their storage budgets; they account mainly for backup and disk hardware.
  • Storage is still narrowly defined at many companies as a series of hardware costs rather than an integrated process that includes hardware, software and personnel.

"As storage grows into its own specialty at every level, companies are realizing they have to do more than constantly add capacity to meet their needs," said Lars Linden, GlassHouse's vice president of strategy. "Companies at every level understand that they just can't keep storing every piece of data they have indefinitely - there's no end to that. They need sound strategies for managing data to slow the spiral while still meeting the business goals and regulatory requirements."
GlassHouse clients include UBS, Exxon Mobil, Charles Schwab, Virgin Mobile, and The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America.

Source: GlassHouse Technologies Inc.

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