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The cloud can be a safe harbor from many if not all of these issues. In fact, over the next decade, the cloud will become a preferred technology for storing all or part of a company's data, once some key issues are solved.
Of the total 7.9 zettabytes IDC estimates will be stored worldwide in 2015, 0.8 zettabytes is expected to be maintained in the cloud while 1.4 zettabytes will be stored or processed in a cloud during part of the time between when data is first created and eventually disposed of.
Roberto Basilio, vice president of storage product management at Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), said a majority of data will go to the cloud as a way to provide IT as a service. "It will happen when everything is secure, and when everything happens very fast," Basilio said.
How much data moves to the cloud over the next decade is predicated on the question of how much of the rest of the IT infrastructure, including servers, will move to the cloud, said David Scott, senior vice president and general manager for storage at Hewlett-Packard.
"I won't say it won't be an inexorable trend for plenty of data to move to the cloud whether the servers are there or not," Scott said. "Massive stores of information are going to the cloud over the next decade, and content depots will be searched. ... But if there are terabytes of data in the results, there will still be issues with connections between a business and the cloud. The speed of light limits the speed of data in the cloud."
Still, the attraction of the cloud as a place to store data is compelling, in part because of its flexibility vs. storing data in a company's own physical infrastructures. As the amount of data a company stores continues to grow, there has to be somewhere to put it all. With on-site or remote physical storage devices, that means purchasing more boxes.
That raises the question of how much capacity should be purchased. Few if any companies truly know how fast their storage is growing, and so are forced to purchase far more capacity than they need in order to ensure they don't run out of space. Even with such technologies as compression and deduplication, thin provisioning, and virtualization of multiple arrays into large storage pools, keeping up with data growth is a logistical nightmare.
An enterprise storage cloud allows capacity and data volumes to grow as needed and when needed, all without the IT manager worrying about when and how to purchase new physical capacity. Cloud storage also shrinks when needed. For instance, with the cloud, it is possible to build a storage infrastructure for testing or staging new applications on real data, run the tests, and then delete the data when done.