RealTime IT News

SMB Storage Set For 2006 Rush

Thanks to the explosion in data and the imminent certainty of compliance regulations, even small and medium 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, fueled by the proliferation of broadband and local area networks (LAN) that can drive storage needs to new heights.

Regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley and SEC 17a-4 will contribute to the increase in storage spending, too.

IDC analyst Ray Boggs said this 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 mid-sized and small 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.

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 has recently stepped up its efforts in that sector. The company's "Making Storage Simple" strategy caters to 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 medium companies.

IDC also found that while small businesses rely on internal disks for storage, 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.