Survey Reveals Tech Trends Reshaping Data Storage – Enterprise Storage Forum

Enterprise Storage Forum recently administered a major survey of IT and business leaders to gauge their data storage plans. The answers have implications for both IT and business units, as companies of all sizes struggle to strategically plan storage purchases in a fast-changing tech landscape.
Entitled Data Storage Trends 2018, the survey provides the most comprehensive portrait of today’s data storage landscape, from technology to hiring trends to budget decisions. At the end of this article, we discuss the five key takeaways from the survey.
See the highlights from our survey in this . 
How much has your company’s data storage grown in the last 2 years?
What is your company’s expected data storage growth in the next 2 years?
As the responses above reveal, current and projected data growth are large enough to create a true challenge to storage platform, forcing managers to invest in new technology, as noted below. Clearly, part of the rise of cloud storage is a response to the high cost of storage hardware; businesses are hoping to outsource the headaches of in-house storage.
To which storage technology has your company allocated the greatest amount of budget in the last 5 years? 
What storage technologies are included in your company’s current storage infrastructure?
Current storage environments juggle many moving pieces, with a mix of last generation and next generation technologies forming a heterogeneous storage environment. But the respondents certainly say that cloud adoption has become a dominant model.
Notice, too that flash/SSD and HDD are essentially tied. Modern storage platforms are at a transition point where these two storage mediums are nearly even; but it’s  safe prediction that flash will pull ahead in the coming years.
What storage technology holds most of your company’s primary storage data?
What is the biggest challenge involved with operating your current storage infrastructure?
Survey respondents cited aging equipment and inadequate storage capacity as their major concerns, as both heavily impact business application performance.
What are the key qualities you look for in new storage technologies?
Which storage technologies is your company seriously considering purchasing in the next 2 years?
While the data above shows the statistical response, the following key takeaways delve into what these numbers mean for businesses and storage administrators:

1.  Performance and cost drivers run neck-and-neck. Balancing performance and cost aren’t exactly new to storage administrators. What is new is the extreme storage performance that is now available with flash and flash accelerating technologies like NVMe. They are costlier than hybrid systems or lower cost AFAs, so it’s important for IT to conduct detailed cost analyses for high performance storage purchases.
2.  Flat IT headcount meets fast-growing data. Most survey takers do not plan to decrease or increase their IT departments over the next two years. Not decreasing staff is good news in most organizations. But not increasing IT staff presents a challenge during fast-growing data and security challenges like Shadow IT. The key to managing storage with a smaller staff is automation: simplified upgrades, dynamic scalability, automatic monitoring and alerts, and policy-driven storage management.
3.  Hyperconvergence is limited. Hyperconvergence is very good at what it does: it delivers performance and scalability for some workloads at a reasonable cost. However, no one type of infrastructure can handle every type of workload, and companies must make choices about where to invest data center dollars.
4.  Flash adoption is steady but not roaring ahead of HDD. HDD’s installed base is massive and works well with all but the fastest high-performance applications. It makes no sense for IT to rip and replace disk-based or hybrid systems – and may not for years to come. Flash/SSD is still the high-performance choice: important for transactional systems but not critical for most business applications.
5.  Cloud storage takes a big cut of IT’s budget, but IT is buying it anyway. Low monthly storage costs plus CAPEX and OPEX savings are the major drivers for storing data in the cloud. However, as cloud storage grows it takes careful financial management. Watch out for unexpected monthly charges, premium payments as your data grows, the cost of cloud tiering, and egress expenses.
The total number of respondents was 374. Respondents came from small, mid-sized and large companies. 33% of respondents came from companies with less than 100 employees.  27% were from companies employing 100-999 employees. We broke down larger companies into 2 segments: 24% were from companies employing 1000-9999 people and 15% worked for companies employing 10,000+. (If we treat the enterprise as a single segment, then 39% of respondents work at large companies.)
Most respondents identified themselves as IT Staff (37%) or Manager/Senior Manager (34%). Others ranged between owners, directors, VPs, and C-level positions.
The survey crossed vertical industries, with most respondents coming from technology/internet, healthcare, and education. Financial, healthcare, manufacturing, and government also showed up in force with additional respondents from media and entertainment and energy/utilities.
Verticals by Company Size
Enterprise Storage Forum offers practical information on data storage and protection from several different perspectives: hardware, software, on-premises services and cloud services. It also includes storage security and deep looks into various storage technologies, including object storage and modern parallel file systems. ESF is an ideal website for enterprise storage admins, CTOs and storage architects to reference in order to stay informed about the latest products, services and trends in the storage industry.
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