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Exponential growth predicted for UK data storage

Databarracks : 10 April, 2009  (Technical Article)
Data health check survey in the UK predicts significant growth in storage requirements over the next 12 months
Databarracks' latest survey results show that 87% of UK companies expect some storage growth within the next 12 months with more than half of these companies expecting to store up to 50% more data than the amount stored in the previous year.

The annual Data Health Check survey completed by more than 1,000 companies of all sizes and across all sectors provides a comprehensive overview of data backup and recovery technologies and practices. The survey highlights trends in data backup, IT business continuity and IT Disaster Recovery technologies and their usage.

"In the current economic climate the tendency is to cut expenditure wherever possible. Despite the global downturn, it appears that companies are still expecting to see fairly sharp increases in the amount of data that they need to protect, this is set to remain fairly difficult with the rate of data growth and data centres struggling with capacity" says Peter Groucutt, Databarracks' Managing Director. "Another interesting area that the survey has highlighted is the growing interest in Virtualisation as a cheaper way of ensuring that IT Disaster Recovery costs remain manageable. Our own internal research shows that nearly 70% of IT Managers want to have conversations about Virtualisation and most of those are interested in Virtual Disaster Recovery as an alternative way of looking after key servers and applications in their networks."

The latest IDC report has found that nearly 300 Exabytes (300 Billion Gigabytes) of information is created globally during the course of a year; and while production of digital information is set to continue to increase exponentially, and new technologies such as de-duplication help massively with storage of information, the survey has shown that the majority of companies still rely on old technologies such as tapes to protect their data (32%). In other areas new technologies such as virtual environments have had better take up are currently being used by 33% of respondents, though only 38% of these used them in production environments.

Even with all the advancements in data storage solutions, backups still take companies a considerable amount of time each day: 12% of the companies surveyed have at least one dedicated member of staff managing their backup solution, while 43% of the respondents had to restore data at least once a month and 10% of the participants needed to restore data from backups daily. Alarmingly in the past year 39% of companies said they were unable to recover backed up data due to restore failures and a further 25% of companies surveyed cannot measure the efficiency of their backup systems as they have never run restoration tests on stored data.

There also looks to be clear advancement in hardware technology; two years ago the figure for data loss because of hardware failure stood at some 61% and this has dropped significantly to 24% according to the companies which were surveyed this year. This was replaced this year by 'Human Error' as the highest cause of data loss, which currently stands at 26%.

Surprisingly 90% of companies said they had confidence in their backup solutions, while at the same time 52% admitting to not taking backups offsite and also not encrypting backed up data. Of those companies that did take backups offsite, 36% of those across all industry sectors had tapes taken home by a member of staff. 8% of all companies surveyed still do not backup at all, a practice that is more familiar to small business which account for 73% of the overall number of companies with no backup solution in place.

Online backup now accounts for some 23% of the backup market share, this is split between managed (8%) and un-managed (14%) services. Tapes are still the most widely used backup medium being used by 36% of the companies surveyed.

"I am very pleased to see that Online Backup Services are gaining traction in the market against more traditional backup strategies; this certainly bears out our own experiences and what our customers are telling us. I am sure the next twelve months will be an interesting time for the backup industry; I think that customers want to look for more cost effective ways of managing their own internal resources, especially the effectiveness of their staff and also minimize capital expenses where possible. At the same time they are coming under more and more pressure to comply with data protection regulations, with several high profile examples of data loss in 2008. While we are certainly seeing a lot more price pressure in the market place, our significant customer wins in the first couple of months of 2009 certainly indicate a growing need for backup as a service" says Peter Groucutt.

The Data Health Check Survey is the largest and most comprehensive survey in the industry focused purely on backup and recovery technologies and practices. Participants are invited to submit their answers online over the course of the year with partial and final results published in the second and last quarter of each year.

In coming years, the survey will be measured against previous results to reveal the trends within data security and storage technologies and solutions used by UK businesses.
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