Majority of Fortune 1000 firms plan to avoid public cloud, survey shows

Few Fortune 1000 corporations have plans to adopt public cloud storage - even for their lowest tier of data, a new storage survey shows.

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Fewer than 10 percent of enterprise-class corporations are considering the public cloud as a place to store even their lowest tier of data for archive purposes, a new survey of 247 Fortune 1000 corporations shows.

The survey by TheInfoPro also revealed that automated data tiering is exploding as one of the top storage initiatives, leading to the fast uptake in the use of solid-state drive (SSD) technology.

And, when it comes to virtualised servers, Fibre Channel storage area network (SAN) growth still outpaces network-attached storage (NAS) as the backend architecture of choice.

"I heard a lot of discussion last year that NAS is going to take over SAN ... and so on. We're not seeing that at all," said Marco Coulter, TheInfoPro's research director of storage.

Coulter said that, on average, Fortune 1000 respondents stored 1.1 petabytes of data on SANs, a 24 percent increase over 2010. That compares to 331TB of data on NAS systems, a 19 percent increase since last year.

TheInfoPro Storage Study, completed last month, involved surveys of companies that took place through February.

An overwhelming 73 percent of respondents said they create virtualised server volumes on Fibre Channel-connected disk arrays, compared to 27 percent who indicated they were creating volume image files on NAS.

Networked storage capacity in the Fortune 1000 corporations is projected to grow 24 percent in 2011, with 44 percent of organisations expecting to spend more on capacity; 31 percent anticipate stable spending this year. The projections nearly mirror responses last year.

When it comes to storage-as-a-service, few of the respondents indicated they were willing to trust even the most mundane data to the public cloud. Some 87 percent indicated they had no plans to use the public cloud, 10 percent said they would and three percent indicated they weren't sure.

Most Fortune 1000 corporations indicated they won't be adopting public cloud storage for archive data.

However, private cloud adoption was a different story with most saying they face virtually no obstacles or challenges when deploying it. Of the remaining respondents, 20 percent said they had some reliability problems with their private clouds, and 10 percent were equally divided among problems with 10GB/sec Ethernet core switching implementation, IP network issues, problems achieving compliance qualifications and issues with end-user education.

Coulter said in last year's storage study, TheInfoPro asked the corporations what they were doing with external storage, something that got a low response rate. "I thought, 'OK, maybe they think we're asking about production data'," he said. "So this year I made the question about archiving lower tier data; still no interest."

"Most of the large enterprises ... said we're just not giving our data out to somebody else," he continued. "Performance still comes up in the commentary, as well. The problem is when you need the data back ... there isn't a high level of confidence that they can do that through an external system."

Coulter said TheInfoPro's survey data supports a recent pullback by cloud storage vendors, such as Iron Mountain, Cirtas and EMC.

"Even on our small enterprises chart, the number of users of cloud storage are even lower," he said. "We're seeing infrastructure in the cloud. We're seeing applications in the cloud, email in the cloud, HR and CRM in the cloud ... but [storage] is the piece that doesn't make sense for them."

Even private clouds are encountering resistance from Fortune 1000 corporations, according to the data.

In a direct attempt to reduce infrastructure complexity, corporations are also embracing an appliance-based model where server virtualisation, networking, storage, security and overall data management is preconfigured on a purpose-built server.

TheInfoPro said while not yet a "trend" there is increasing discussion among enterprises about the use of products such as Oracle's Exadata, EMC's and Cisco's vBlock and other appliances.

Asked which vendors had the most exciting products or services, nearly 50 percent of the respondents named EMC. HP was second with about 25 percent; NetApp, third with 22 percent; and Hitachi and IBM were named by 19 percent and 17 percent of respondents, respectively. Compellent, Cisco, Oracle, CommVault, Pillar Data Systems, F5 Networks and BluArc followed in that order.

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