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Data growth is pressing businesses to adopt new storage solutions, eliminate inefficiencies and revise tiered architectures, with approaches such as virtualization, cloud servers and hybrid hosting emerging as top strategies, according a recent InformationWeek survey. The 2013 State of Storage report found that 30 percent of organizations are experiencing 25 percent or more of data expansion annually, the highest share in the five years of the report. With storage needs increasing, businesses are also revisiting their approaches to managing information.
According to the report, 42 percent of businesses have 100 terabytes or more of data under active management, and 11 percent have 1 petabyte or more. The top drivers of information growth are the enterprise database or data warehouse and email, which account for 47 percent and 21 percent of Tier 1 stored data growth, respectively. To handle the growing volume of data, organizations are turning to virtualization and the cloud, as well as revisiting storage management approaches and exploring solutions for storing non-mission critical data in less expensive formats. Twenty-seven percent of decision makers have consolidated storage into fewer, centrally managed systems.
Additionally, 39 percent of executives reported using some sort of cloud-based storage, and another 32 percent are considering making a cloud storage investment. Application-specific storage and backup and disaster recovery are the top uses for the cloud.
"New cloud storage services launch almost weekly, with existing ones evolving at a breakneck pace, but they're not just for ad hoc file sharing anymore," report author Kurt Marko wrote. "Enterprises now see the cloud as a legitimate storage tier."
Marko also noted that hybrid hosting is expanding from a niche service to a more high-profile option. Many organizations are increasingly comfortable with a heterogeneous storage infrastructure that incorporates a variety of solutions or managed hosting services, he explained.
Advantages of moving to cloud-based storage
The report recommended organizations respond to the growing volume of data by re-examining storage projects to see if they align with current technology trends. Additionally, organizations may want to reassess their current managed hosting provider to ensure their needs are being met. By moving to a more virtual hosting environment, businesses may be able to cut or better manage costs while improving scalability, system redundancy and data security.
Security may be one point in which businesses can particularly benefit from a managed hosting environment. Six in 10 survey respondents said they currently encrypt at least some stored data. However, by moving to a secure managed hosting service with network and server encryption, businesses can meet all their data protection needs.
"As opposed to storing information on a physical device locally that can be easily snatched, your data is stored in the provider's data center, which is heavily guarded with both physical and virtual protection," IT Business Edge contributor Chas Arnold explained, referring to the advantages of cloud hosting.
Additionally, storage in a cloud environment is purchased on an as-needed basis, so organizations can quickly scale up server use without additional capital outlays. With added security, scalability and accessibility, the cloud is becoming an increasingly popular option for handling the large volumes of data generated in today's workplace.
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