August 6, 2012 – Storage spending will slow through the rest of year as more data managers shift their plans to virtualized environments and await real-world use cases for advanced analytics, according to a new industry assessment.

451 Research’s TheInfoPro industry-specific division tabulated responses from data storage professionals at mid-to-large enterprises and vendors in North America and Europe from the first half of 2012. Data storage budget growth is down 6 percent in 2012 compared with the same time period in 2011, according to the report. About one-third of mid-sized enterprises (36 percent) plan to increase their storage budgets through the rest of this year, down from 47 percent reported in 2011.

The report indicates that some of the storage spending only goes to address broader storage uses, and, in particular, doesn’t account for refined data applications. Fifty-six percent of those in the report stated they have “no plan” for big data beyond 2013. TheInfoPro, which defines big data in terms of advanced analytics rather than massive quantities of data, noted that most enterprises are waiting on direct business use cases for advanced analytics before taking those next planning and investments steps, according to storage research director Marco Coulter.

“Advanced analytics needs a joint effort from business units and the storage team to ensure the data and analysis suitably addresses business models. Advanced analytics is not really a 'build it and they will come' technology,” says Coulter.

Connected to that general storage use, automated tiering ranked as the “hottest” storage technology, replacing data deduplication and replication from previous reports. TheInfoPro indicated that deduplication remains near the top of plans, along with technology for compression and thin provisioning.

On the rise is expected spending by large enterprises on networked capacity, slated to increase 26 percent by the end of 2012 compared with last year. Hybrid arrays are approaching “majority use” in enterprise data centers. Sixty-seven percent of those in the survey ranked production servers have 80-to-100 percent of their production servers connected to fiber channel SANs.

Coulter says these storage capacity and virtualization implementations and upgrades are happening as enterprises are “concurrently preparing to deliver cloud-like provisioning.”

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