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It's no secret that unstructured data is growing at astronomical rates, contributing to the big data deluge that's sweeping across enterprise data storage environments. A new study from Western Digital and 451 Research sheds some new light on the scale of the challenge that storage administrators face each day and how it's fueling the object storage boom.
A 451 Research survey of 200 technology decision makers and influencers, sponsored by Western Digital, reveals that a majority of enterprises (63 percent) and service providers are managing storage capacities of 50 petabytes (PB) or more. More than half of that of that data falls under the unstructured category, existing outside of databases and within files, multimedia content and other formats.
Service providers are particularly being inundated with unstructured data. They reported annual growth rates of 60 to 80 percent, compared to 40 to 50 percent for enterprise users.
The increased use of non-text data, including audio and video content, is partly responsible this surge in unstructured data. Needless to say, enterprise storage traditionalists are feeling the pressure.
"The rapid growth of unstructured data driven by new applications, workloads and rich-media data streams, combined with data center transformations to hybrid cloud, software-defined and converged architectures, are unraveling traditional storage markets," said Phil Bullinger, senior vice president and general manager of Western Digital's Data Center Systems Business Unit, in a statement.
Object storage is playing a pivotal role in helping today's businesses deal with the new status quo.
"Whether focusing on Big Data or Fast Data, enterprises are increasingly competing on their ability to efficiently harness and create value from relentlessly increasing volumes of data," added the Western Digital executive. "Object storage is a foundational architecture for creating the right environments to capture, preserve, access and transform data."
Object storage will be used by 90 percent of respondents in key big data initiatives within 24 months. Businesses are generally flocking to object storage solutions to aid them in their data protection efforts and to make data more accessible. Cost efficiencies also factor into the decision to adopt object storage, as does the potential for new revenue opportunities, according to the report.
Businesses and their application workloads are also getting pulled in a cloud-based direction, necessitating a transition from block and file storage to object storage. Keeping IT budgets in check is another reason for making the switch, the study found.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Enterprise Storage Forum. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.