Return of the Guru

Enterprises Bullish on Storage But Cautious on Cloud

Ara Trembly
Insurance Experts' Forum, July 6, 2010

In the universe of enterprise priorities and challenges, storage is probably the least among the stars, yet this seemingly unimportant topic is proving to have a significant influence on enterprises themselves and the businesses they support. 

According to a survey of 1,165 IT managers, the average company doesn't utilize 28% of its storage capacity but, nonetheless, plans to increase storage capacity by 34% over the next year.

The survey, performed by International Data Group's B2B publications business, also found that the storage capacity at the companies of respondents will grow by an average of 58% over the next one to three years, and by 93% over the next three to five years. 

These figures make perfect sense, since by all accounts the need for storage in general is outpacing our ability, and perhaps our willingness, to provide it.  The current shaky economy also puts tremendous pressure on organizations and enterprises to find better and more cost-efficient ways to manipulate and manage data.  In insurance in particular—where we see the volume of information growing at a breakneck pace—fast, reliable, accurate and secure storage is an obvious and critical priority. 

When it comes to storage, of course, there are many options, and the survey addressed one of today’s most popular choices: cloud computing.  Only 14% of survey respondents, however, said that their companies are piloting or implementing private or public cloud-based storage technologies, says IDG. If cloud technologies are used, the respondents said they would likely be in the form of private cloud systems.  In fact, about 42% of all respondents said that public cloud-based data storage solutions are not on their roadmap at all. 

These figures reflect a thorny problem facing enterprises across the board.  While there are many roads to choose from on the storage journey, each of those roads has its own difficulties—whether it be overall product cost, size of the maintenance budget, or data security issues.  Security is the wild card in all this, because a mistake in funding or execution there could have significant and far-reaching consequences.  In fact, overall, the managers surveyed ranked “security concerns” second among their top challenges, just one percentage point behind “infrastructure complexity.” 

As the economic rollercoaster barrels on its unpredictable way, insurers will—perhaps wisely—watch from the ground to see where things eventually come to a stop.  Unfortunately, the waves of data coming at our enterprises have grown from manageable ripples to wild tsunamis, meaning we can’t wait too long to invest in data storage hardware, virtual storage in some form, or perhaps some of both.  These difficult decisions will have a meaningful impact on budgets, agility, day-to-day operations and the enterprise as a whole as we move forward. 

The outcome of our storage choices can’t be certain at this point, but the need to make a choice is unavoidable. 

Ara C. Trembly ( is the founder of Ara Trembly, The Tech Consultant, and a longtime observer of technology in insurance and financial services.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Ara using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at

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