Storage-as-a-service is more than just a viable alternative, according to two new IDC multi-client studies.

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.

Brad Nisbet, program manager for Storage and Data Management Services at IDC, said that as consumers and business organizations 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.

"With storage-as-a-service capacity growing over 65 per cent from 174 petabytes in 2007 to over 2.1 exabytes in 2012, the market is rife with opportunity," he said.

Laura DuBois, program director for Storage Software at IDC, said that 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.

"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," she said.

Among the key survey results on the commercial side are:

  • 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.

Among the key survey findings on the consumer side are:

  • Suppliers 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, phone company, or the like.

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