Getting Out of Storage Debt

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Rampant data growth has been the stimuli to over-spending on data storage. Technology advances have enabled us to gather more data faster than any time in our history.  This has been beneficial in many ways and has provided businesses more data that can enable them to optimize their sales, marketing, customer relations and product offerings.  Unfortunately, in order to keep pace with data growth, businesses have had to provision more and more storage capacity, costing them millions of dollars.

Let's begin by taking a look at some sobering statistics.  According to industry analyst sources, data will continue to grow at a rate of 50% or more in 2011 which will necessitate increasing investments in storage technology to retain it.  While analysts accurately identify dropping storage costs (per GB) of approximately 25%/yr, it is hardly a drop in the bucket to what is needed to keep up. Concurrently, 2011 IT budgets will increase modestly, along the lines of 3%.  The gap between data growth, increasing storage efficiency and budget increases leaves an IT budget shortfall or what we refer to as storage debt.   

When the trends of data growth, IT budgets and decreasing cost/GB are analyzed it becomes quickly apparent that there is a widening GAP between the need to store data and the ability to afford (fund) the costs of data growth. Consider the following scenarios:

  • Data growth will continue to expand 10 - 20% per year from 50% yr/yr to more than 70% yr/yr by 2015.
  • IT budgets will improve slowly as the economy improves. An average of 3% in 2011 may grow to 4-5% in 2012 and perhaps 6% or higher in 2013. (A graphic here illustrates the concept more clearly.)

Some further observations if the current rate of data growth is left unchecked:

  • There will be an increasingly larger GAP between the ability to fund (afford) the cost of data growth.
  • Businesses will consume incremental IT budget just to attempt to keep up with the costs of data growth.          
  • In order to afford the GAP in data growth there will need to be additional budget funding which will take away scarce dollars from other business operations limiting the ability to grow, expand and compete.

Is Storage Debt Relief on the Way?

While there will always be costs associated with obtaining, securing and storing data, there are technologies that will help companies considerably reduce their data footprint. Data optimization technology has evolved beyond its initial use case in backup solutions to be applied to primary storage and beyond. The resulting reduction in storage consumption is dramatic and the impact of data optimization technology on business IT budgets cannot be understated. For example, if data can be optimized (reduced) by a factor of 2X to 4-8X, the costs associated with storage spends will be substantially less. In order to prevent IT budget shortfalls resulting from data growth, optimization technology will provide significant budget relief thus freeing up valuable resources that can be applied elsewhere to help grow the business. (A graphic here demonstrates this effect.)

Today's extremely efficient data optimization technology does not negatively impact overall system performance,  or existing processes, and performs at the I/O rates necessary for across the board storage applications (yes including primary storage) and can scale out to multiple PBs of storage to meet the growing data footprint.

Data optimization is the enabler that delivers the affordability that is needed to solve today's data growth/cost conundrum. It enables the evolution of Big Data, which currently is a solution only a few can afford. Much like the credit card companies however, this information will only be found in the finest of print as you begin to accumulate levels of storage debt you'll never be able to repay.  So read the fine print!

There is a famous saying, "The only man who sticks closer to you in adversity than a friend, is a creditor."  That sums up the philosophy of storage providers rather nicely.  Ask your storage provider when they will be enabling data optimization before you make your next storage purchase; this will go a long way in ensuring that you keep yourself out of debt. Storage debt, that is.