Economic woes haven't slowed IT storage spending

Many still want to invest in data management products

As much of the western world teeters on the brink of an economic recession, unfazed IT managers are ready to open their corporate wallets to help manage exploding data growth and long-term retention costs in corporate storage environments.

Users at Computerworld US' recent Storage Networking World Conference (SNW) said they will not be swayed by mounting economic pressures, because their storage systems need relief from tight capacities and data management problems. In fact, SNW attendees said investing in email archiving, de-duplication and virtualisation projects could drastically reduce future spending needs in a depressed economy.

Scott Ebert, a network administrator at Trinity Catholic High School in Florida, said that protecting sensitive data within his storage architecture supercedes any immediate IT spending concerns. Florida law dictates that his school keep and protect student transcripts for up to 50 years, he said.

"Budget constraints always have something to do with storage planning, but you have to protect your data because it's hard to replace and it's very expensive," said Ebert. "Price isn't always the driving factor. As far as the economy goes, it doesn't affect what we have to do."

According to a survey conducted at the conference, 32% of attendees listed IT budget constraints as their top challenge in storage management. Further, a third of respondents said that long-term preservation and archiving was their sole biggest challenge involving data management. More than 1,000 users attended SNW.

John Striber, executive director for IT at George P Johnson, an events marketing firm, arrived at SNW with plans to purchase something for email archiving. Striber said his company feels the technology can save future administration and long-term retention costs by enabling unstructured data to be automatically moved from primary disk storage onto tape.

"If I found a good email archiving solution here, I wouldn't hesitate to buy it," said Striber. "The economy doesn't really influence me. Taking care of our immediate needs and planning for the future — that's what's expected of me." Other cost-saving moves planned by Striber include de-duplication and an expansion of his firm's VMware environment.

Noting that sluggish economic conditions have already "pressured" research firm IDC to twice lower its technology spending forecasts in recent months, Benjamin Woo, an analyst at the firm, said IDC refuses to adjust its positive stance on sustained storage growth and higher corporate investment.

"We can't see storage spending going down," Woo said. "We maintain a very bullish outlook on [storage] capacity growth" within enterprises. He noted that virtualisation projects and storage area network-related purchases are driving storage spending.

"Businesses are realising they have to spend more [now] to save in the future," added Woo.

Joe Giannetti, vice president of corporate technology at Classified Ventures, an online classified advertising company, said the worsening economy has not made funding for IT projects scarce. One thing that has changed, he noted, is a sharper business focus attached to IT buying decisions.

"Every time I inherently have to buy more storage [executives] are like, 'Oh my God, how many more terabytes are we buying now? Why do we need all this storage?" Giannetti said. "They're still investing a lot in technology, but they want to make sure they're making the right investments."

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