Storage as a service could be a hot small biz and consumer app

12 Nov 2008

The storage as a service market, which will act as a precursor to cloud computing for many businesses, is tipped to have a disruptive effect on the traditional storage industry.

An IDC survey of 812 firms reveals that demand for online storage services is very strong in small, mid-size and large firms that are facing budgetary and IT staffing pressures.

These companies are evaluating online services for backup/disaster recovery, long-term record retention, business continuity and availability. On the consumer front, the storage as a service opportunity is exploding as individuals need to store fast-growing volumes of digital data.

They are increasingly considering online services as an alternative to a product purchase, for backing up, sharing and preserving data long term. In both the commercial and consumer segments, the availability of storage as a service is disrupting traditional storage software markets as it changes how individuals and firms access storage capacity and procure software functions.

But, more importantly, storage as a service is a precursor to the longer term cloud storage and cloud computing opportunity, IDC reveals.

“As consumers and business organisations continue to generate vast amounts of data and seek optimum methods to store and protect them, the growth of storage capacities delivered through storage as a service offerings will outpace traditional storage architectures,” said Brad Nisbet, programme manager for Storage and Data Management Services at IDC.

“With storage as a service capacity growing over 65pc from 174 petabytes in 2007 to over 2.1 exabytes in 2012, the market is rife with opportunity.”

IDC’s analysis finds that suppliers that offer a breadth of services to satisfy a range of use cases for storage as a service will be a step ahead. Storage as a service is of interest as a lower cost alternative to on-premise solutions, and secondarily in support of limited IT staff.

Firms show a preference for suppliers whose focus is on online services, and for those that have a strong technical background.

“Today in the commercial context, online backup and archiving services are the immediate manifestation of the longer term opportunity for a series of cloud-based services which will impact the storage industry,” said Laura DuBois, programme director for Storage Software at IDC.

“Storage as a service will take place in two phases: first as a way to enable protection, recovery, long-term retention and business continuity, and second as a by-product of larger cloud computing initiatives.”

In terms of consumer adoption of storage as a service, IDC found that firms that understand the differences between the large population of consumers merely aware of online backup and those considering it will be at an advantage.

Motivators for early adoption of online backup have been for recovery, but individuals currently evaluating are motivated by anywhere files accessibility.

Consumers indicated a clear preference to get an online backup service from a dedicated online backup company, rather than from an IT supplier or phone company.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years