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Cloud data storage services in wide use among companies of all sizes

Rich Castagna

Cloud storage services for data protection and other applications are currently used by 44% of companies that responded to a recent TechTarget survey. That number should grow

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over the next six months or so, as 46% said they plan to increase their use of cloud data storage services. For the most part, cloud storage users are quite satisfied with the services they're using: 17% rate their experience to date as "outstanding," 59% said it has been "good" and only 3% expressed disappointment.

Similar cloud storage usage statistics were reported in a Purchasing Intentions survey conducted earlier by TechTarget's Storage Media Group -- 29% of respondents were using cloud storage for non-backup applications, and 33% noted the use of cloud backup services.

Following backup, the leading application for cloud storage is disaster recovery (DR). Thirty-eight percent of cloud storage users said they use it for DR, and 52% plan to expand their current use of cloud storage for DR or plan to start using it for that purpose in the next six months. Data archiving is often cited as a potential "killer app" for cloud storage, and 28% of our respondents said they're using cloud storage for archiving now. That number is likely to grow fairly quickly, as 39% are planning to add/expand cloud storage services for archiving over the next half-year.

At this time, it appears that most companies using cloud storage for DR do so in conjunction with another DR methodology. For example, 39% ship data to a separate physical recovery site in addition to using the cloud for DR; for 30% of those surveyed, DR data also goes to tape. Right now, 46% of cloud DR users can use cloud-based computing services in conjunction with their cloud storage to recover and resume operations in the cloud.

On ramp to cloud data storage services

Most cloud storage users (57%) still rely on service provider-supplied software to access their cloud storage services. Another 18% use locally installed software that can link to cloud storage, while a similar number use on-premises appliances to create a more seamless hybrid cloud environment. The appliance market is largely populated by startups, but Microsoft's recent acquisition of StorSimple, one of the pioneers in this field, should spur even greater interest in this access alternative. While the overall number of appliance users is still relatively modest, 29% of larger companies and 39% of midsized companies currently use appliances.

Backup still app No. 1 for cloud storage

While cloud-based DR and archiving are on the rise, backup is still the most popular app among cloud data storage services. On average, companies in our survey reported having approximately 8.5 terabytes (TB) of backup data stored in the cloud. Seventy-five percent of cloud backup users have less than 10 TB of cloud backup data, but 11% have more than 20 TB of their backup data stored in the ether. Assuming the data is deduplicated and compressed, that figure is likely to represent 100 TB or more of source data.

Thirty-four percent of reporting companies have more than half of their company's total backup data stored in a cloud backup service. On average, cloud backup users have 41% of their backup data tucked away in the cloud. If companies carry through with their plans, those numbers will grow in the next six months, resulting in half the companies keeping more than 50% of their backup data in the cloud.

The type of data companies are backing up to the cloud varies considerably, with user files accounting for the most backup data (72%), closely followed by data from the main data center (66%), mobile users (41%) and remote offices (41%).

But not just backup

Backup may be king of the storage cloud with DR closing the gap, but companies are using cloud storage for other applications. Survey respondents said that on average, 35% of their companies' applications are currently tapping into cloud storage. An eye-opening 25% of those users tell us that 50% or more of their companies' apps have data stored in the cloud. Here, too, you can expect those numbers to rise in the short term, with 42% of respondents expecting that more than half of their apps will be hooked into cloud storage within six months.

Right now, companies have an average of approximately 7.5 TB of non-backup data stored with a cloud data storage service, and they anticipate that figure to rise to 10.9 TB over the coming months.


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