Analysts See Big Year for SMB Storage

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Thanks to exploding data growth and the growing number of data retention and protection regulations, small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) are being forced to spend more on storage.

Research firm IDC said it expects 2006 to be a breakout year for storage among SMBs, with the proliferation of broadband and local area networks (LAN) also driving the increase in storage needs. Regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley and SEC 17a-4 will also contribute to the boost in storage spending.

IDC analyst Ray Boggs said the trend is a combination of two forces: capacity challenges and compliance regulations.

“SMBs have just been throwing more storage at their capacity challenges, and that will continue to be the case for many, especially with the growth of e-mail archives,” Boggs said. “But there is the other piece, the compliance piece, that is encouraging more ‘adult supervision’ of storage in general.”

The analyst said small and mid-sized companies are starting to appreciate that they need a more comprehensive approach to storage — something better managed.

Boggs said this is a change in perspective, noting that companies have historically viewed storage as a dull necessity that wouldn’t help them grow.

“But now there is a clear understanding of the risk — maybe I won’t grow and triumph because I have an effective storage approach, but I also won’t go broke because I failed to put into place the data storage and recovery resources I needed before disaster struck!”

Vendors have taken note of this defensive rather than offensive investment. A growing number of storage manufacturers have been crafting storage products and services for the SMB market.

IBM, HP and Dell have historically been among those vendors creating hardware and software for SMBs.

Recognizing that SMBs would play a larger part of the burgeoning storage customer base, EMC recently stepped up its efforts in the sector with its new Insignia line aimed at the low end of the market.

There are some differences between what small companies and medium businesses require, according to Boggs.

For one, small businesses devote the largest share of disk storage to e-mail and digital content. But medium businesses allot most of their disk storage for backup and recovery. IDC also found that medium firms have the same requirements as larger firms for backup and recovery.

In that vein, small businesses will look to boost storage capacity over the next year, while improving disaster recovery tops the wish lists of mid-sized companies.

IDC also found that while small businesses rely on internal disks, or direct-attached storage (DAS), medium-sized firms will increase their storage area network (SAN) capacity in the next 12 months. SAN storage tends to be more complex and expensive than other forms of storage, but also more secure and higher-performing. Mid-sized businesses are also more likely to consider tapeless backup and recovery approaches, IDC said.

“Medium-sized firms have the same requirements as larger firms for improved backup and recovery that disk-based data protection schemas can deliver and are perhaps more open to using exclusively disk in their protection processes,” said Laura DuBois, IDC’s research director for storage software.

Article courtesy of

Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor and a senior writer for covering IT leadership, the CIO role, and digital transformation.

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