A survey of 1,165 IT managers found that the average company doesn't utilize 28 percent of storage capacity but nonetheless plans to increase storage capacity by 34 percent over the next year.
The survey, performed by International Data Group's B2B publications business, found that the storage capacity at the companies of respondents will grow by an average of 58 percent over the next one to three years and by 93 percent over the next 3 to 5 years.
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The survey separated respondents into two groups: Those managing IT in enterprises with more than 1,000 employees; and those at SMBs (small and mid-sized businesses) with fewer than 1,000 employees.
The enterprise survey found that 58 percent of respondents work at a company with a storage budget of over $100,000, while the SMB IT managers indicated they spend less than $100,000 annually on storage needs.
The survey found that overall, companies spend an average of 23 percent of their annual storage budget on operating costs and maintenance. The enterprise users said their companies spend about 29 percent of their annual storage budgets on maintenance and operating costs, while SMBs spend 19 percent.
Overall, the managers indicated that their top challenges are infrastructure complexity (28 percent), security concerns (27 percent), inadequate skills or training (25 percent), difficulty proving ROI (21 percent) and deciding which storage areas to virtualize (21 percent).
Only 14 percent of respondents said that their companies are piloting or implementing private or public cloud-based storage technologies. If cloud technologies are used, the respondents said they would likely be in the form of private cloud systems.
About 42 percent of all respondents said that public cloud-based data storage solutions are not on their roadmap at all. Meanwhile only 23 percent of enterprise IT managers and 23 percent of their SMB colleagues ruled out use of private cloud-based data storage solutions.
When asked if they are currently taking or planning to take actions to monitor storage utilization rates or consolidate their storage onto fewer systems, most indicated they did. Eighty-eight percent of enterprise IT managers, and 73 percent of SMB officials, indicated they've chosen to monitor storage utilization rates.
Meanwhile, 65 percent of all respondents said they plan to consolidate storage operations by using fewer, more homogeneous systems over the next year.
The survey also found that enterprise IT managers are far more likely than SMBs to increase the level of data center automation as a means of improving storage efficiency -- by 79 percent versus 56 percent.
IT officials at the smaller firms are far more likely to choose lower cost, higher capacity serial ATA disk drives over Fibre Channel or serial SCSI drives. Thirty-seven percent of SMB IT managers said their companies plan to expand use of SATA technology versus 31 percent of larger company managers.
Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian, or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more about storage in Computerworld's Storage Topic Center.