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SD 2003: Corporate DR mandates driving IT priorities for 2004

Storage managers still hold a pretty tight grip on budgets, but when it comes to spending for disaster recovery planning, the corporate purse strings are beginning to loosen.

CHICAGO -- While IT storage budgets remain tight, results of a recent survey indicate that some managers are starting to see corporate purse strings loosening for IT projects tied to their company's larger disaster recovery planning efforts.

When asked about their highest priority storage projects planned for 2004, one quarter of 110 IT managers and decision makers attending the Storage Decisions Conference here Wednesday placed disaster recovery and improving their company's backup and archival systems at the top of their to-do lists for next year.

Many respondents said that DR and backup-related priorities were part of larger, company-wide mandates that top management considered important. "This is a major project within this organization," said one survey respondent. "With today's business climate and terrorist activity, it is important."

Many vendors and IT analysts predict a huge boost in DR and backup-related spending in the wake of September 11 and last month's blackout in the Northeast and Canada. Some vendors have noticed an upswing in sales, but reports indicate that users were paying lip service to better DR planning, and few were willing to invest the funds needed to make it happen.

Based on the feedback from the survey, this view may now be changing. "This [disaster recovery] mandate has been handed down from upper management," said another respondent, "and, it will be a significant challenge to implement in a cost-effective manner."

Many respondents reported significant challenges with their current backup infrastructures. Still, others maintained that the storage needs of their business had outgrown their backup technology now in use.

"Data growth increases, but the backup infrastructure does not," said one respondent. "Also, the budget does not allow for large enough growth of the backup infrastructure."

Backup preferences

As for the backup or recovery technology medium of choice, 86.4% of survey respondents said they still use tape for primary backup purposes, despite industry hype around disk replacing tape. Another 27% said they use tape just for off-site archiving.

Some proponents of disk as a primary backup medium are not surprised about such a low number. According to W. Curtis Preston, president of the Oceanside, Calif.-based Storage Group consulting firm, 30% is probably about right for early adopters in the disk-based backup market. "People are just now beginning to get the idea that disk-based backup is a good idea," he said. "Many of my clients are just beginning to implement disk into their current systems."

Preston, who spoke on the topic of integrating disk into backup at Storage Decisions Wednesday, said the first logical step to integrating disk into your backup infrastructure is to start using the medium for incremental backups. He maintained that half of his clients have improved their backup speeds by 30% to 50% or more by just changing how they do things. "In most cases," he said, "they don't have to buy a single piece of hardware to see these types of improvements."


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Michele Hope is the senior editor of Let us know what you think about this story. E-mail the editor

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