Survey finds storage systems underutilized as companies add more capacity

IT managers also remain wary of turning to private or public cloud-based storage systems

A survey of 1,165 IT managers found that the average company doesn't utilize 28% of storage capacity but nonetheless plans to increase storage capacity by 34% over the next year.

The survey, performed by International Data Group's B2B publications business, found that the storage capacity at the companies of respondents will grow by an average of 58% over the next one to three years and by 93% over the next 3 to 5 years.

The survey separated respondents into two groups: Those managing IT in enterprises with more than 1,000 employees; and those at small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) with fewer than 1,000 employees.

The enterprise survey found that 58% of respondents work at a company with a storage budget of over $100,000, while the SMB IT managers indicated they spend less than $100,000 annually on storage needs.

The survey found that overall, companies spend an average of 23% of their annual storage budget on operating costs and maintenance. The enterprise users said their companies spend about 29% of their annual storage budgets on maintenance and operating costs, while SMBs spend 19%.

Overall, the managers indicated that their top challenges are infrastructure complexity (28%), security concerns (27%), inadequate skills or training (25%), difficulty proving ROI (21%) and deciding which storage areas to virtualize (21%).

Only 14% of respondents said that their companies are piloting or implementing private or public cloud-based storage technologies. If cloud technologies are used, the respondents said they would likely be in the form of private cloud systems.

About 42% of all respondents said that public cloud-based data storage solutions are not on their roadmap at all. Meanwhile only 23% of enterprise IT managers and 23% of their SMB colleagues ruled out use of private cloud-based data storage solutions.

When asked if they are currently taking or planning to take actions to monitor storage utilization rates or consolidate their storage onto fewer systems, most indicated they did. Eighty-eight percent of enterprise IT managers, and 73% of SMB officials, indicated they've chosen to monitor storage utilization rates.

Meanwhile, 65% of all respondents said they plan to consolidate storage operations by using fewer, more homogeneous systems over the next year.

The survey also found that enterprise IT managers are far more likely than SMBs to increase the level of data center automation as a means of improving storage efficiency -- by 79% versus 56%.

IT officials at the smaller firms are far more likely to choose lower cost, higher capacity serial ATA disk drives over Fibre Channel or serial SCSI (SAS) drives. Thirty-seven percent of SMB IT managers said their companies plan to expand use of SATA technology versus 31% of larger company managers.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian, or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

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