451 Alliance Report

Alliance Members-Only Report

Corporate Storage Trends

Data Under Management on the Rise


By Tracy Corbo

Storage lacks the flash and hype of other technology sectors; and spending has been relatively flat slightly declining during the last 10 years. However, this situation is about to change given the growing volumes of data being generated worldwide by the Internet, social media, IoT and smart devices. All that data must be stored and processed somewhere.

The traditional storage technology vendors are aware that change is afoot. Over the next few years, how much public cloud will cannibalize traditional storage markets? Stay tuned.

Traditional storage technology continues to meet the enterprise needs. Though cloud storage has grown in popularity, enterprises most often tap into public cloud storage services for secondary use cases such as backup, file sharing and storing data for cloud-based applications and not as their primary source of storage capacity. The key obstacles to using public for primary storage are familiar: performance, cost, data privacy concerns, and data sovereignty.

A July survey of 659 members of the 451 Alliance asked about trends in the storage market.

Report Highlights

  • Data Under Management on The Rise. Almost half of very large organizations with more than 10,000 employees are already managing over a petabyte of data and the volume of data growth shows no signs of slowing down over the next 12 months.
  • All-Flash Arrays. AFAs are currently in use within large and smaller enterprises. Key vertical segments with a strong interest in the technology include finance, manufacturing and healthcare.
  • Cloud Storage Services. Currently, the primary use case for cloud storage services is for file sharing and synchronization as well as storage for cloud-based applications. During the next two years, broader use cases will emerge, including backup/recovery and disaster recovery.

Data Under Management

The amount of data being generated is incredible and most of it is of recent vintage, having been generated over the last several years. Data is no longer measurable in bytes or even or megabytes, we are now well into the petabyte and exabyte era.

A petabyte is a lot of data – over a million CD-ROMs. 67% of very large organizations with more than 10,000 employees, currently have more than a petabyte of data under management. Some (10%) are reporting over an exabyte.





The amount of data under management is growing, with 45% of respondents from very large organizations reporting moderate increases and 13% reporting significant expansions of data volume. Only 3% of respondents from very large organizations report no changes.Among smaller organizations, 47% expect slight increases and 31% anticipate moderate growth in the amount of data under management. Respondents expect these levels of growth to continue over the next 12 months.



All-Flash Arrays (AFAs). Despite the higher per GB cost of AFAs versus high capacity disk options, the reduction in latency makes up for the price differential and contributes to AFAs’ ongoing popularity.

Half of organizations with fewer than 10,000 employees report using AFAs, as do 63% of very large organizations with more than 10,000 employees. However, nearly one-third of smaller organizations (fewer than 10,000 employees) report having no plans to implement AFAs over the next two years.


Areas that are more invested in AFAs include organizations with annual revenue in excess of US $1 billion are key AFA adopters, as are respondents in the financial, manufacturing, and healthcare sectors.

Both “pragmatic” adopters of new technology (i.e., those implementing sooner rather than later) and “early adopters” are above-average current users of AFA, as are the “digital leaders” who are already executing on their digital transformation strategies.


Object Storage. The power of object storage lies in the ability to customize metadata to simplify data management and enable deep data integration. While object-based storage has grown in popularity, it tends to be in wider use among larger organizations.

Just over one-third of organizations with fewer than 10,000 employees are currently using object storage and another third have no plans to implement it over the next two years.


Public Cloud Storage. The market for cloud storage services continues to evolve and is growing. Like other cloud services, a key advantage is the ability to source additional storage capacity on demand.

However, it is important to properly scope the operational parameters of the project to avoid runaway costs, given that cloud providers typically charge usage-based bandwidth and performance fees.


Cloud Storage Services. Respondents whose organizations are currently using or piloting public cloud storage were asked about the specific services currently being consumed. Secondary use cases such as file sharing, storage of cloud-based applications and backup/recovery emerged as the top services.

These services, compliment rather than outright replace traditional on-premises/private storage technologies. However, to the extent that net-new cloud-based applications replace legacy on-premises workloads, growth rates for traditional storage will decline, all other factors being equal.


Taking a closer look at cloud storage services in use by company size shows that the top use case for companies with fewer than 10,000 employees is file synching and sharing.

Looking two years ahead, file synch-and-share remains important but broader-based cloud storage solutions such as backup/recovery and archiving are set to pick up steam.

Cloud storage colocation (i.e., vendor solutions attached to public clouds such as NetApp Private Storage for AWS) as the availability of opex-based pricing models makes these types of solutions increasingly viable options.


The cloud-based primary storage for cloud-based applications use case tops the list for very large organizations and will remain the leading use case over the next two years.

However, as cloud-based storage adoption increases (and as cloud-based applications expand) additional use cases emerge, including cloud-based disaster recovery and hybrid cloud storage.


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