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Independent IT research firm TheInfoPro released its latest storage study,
which yielded some encouraging news for the industry and indicates which
companies stand to emerge strongest from the recession. According to the study,
total storage spending among Fortune 1000 customers reports modest growth, with
35 percent of organizations expecting to boost appropriations in 2011 and 39
percent anticipating stable spending. 

The report found generally, midmarket companies are performing slightly
better than the Fortune 1000, with only 13 percent of storage budgets facing
cuts in 2011, down from 27 percent in 2010. Meanwhile, 26 percent of Fortune
1000 customers are facing budget cuts, a drop of only 4 percent compared with this
year, according to the report.

Storage specialist EMC seems poised for a
strong 2011, especially among the Fortune 1000, with five of its products
listed on TheInfoPro’s "Most Exciting Product" list. IBM
and Hewlett-Packard, on the other hand, were deemed somewhat vulnerable,
despite strong brand advantages. "Oracle’s woes continue—the tech giant
was rated as the second most vulnerable vendor for a second consecutive round
of the study," the report noted.

"The HP and Dell bidding war over 3PAR is dominating the media’s
attention right now, and rightfully so," said Ivan Ruzic, CEO
of TheInfoPro. "But the acquisition merely underscores what is shaping out
to be a strong year for the industry as a whole as well as for innovative storage
vendors like EMC, NetApp and others who have
retained customer loyalty through their ability to adapt to the changing
landscape and still offer an exciting product."

The study found deduplication for backup data reduction remains dominant, as
it is the most commonly cited top initiative among storage professionals. Among
vendors, EMC has become the most cited in
use of the technology by a wide margin—listed as the vendor of choice twice as
often to its nearest competitor, which The InfoPro said is a credit to its Data
Domain acquisition.

Online data reduction/deduplication, however, is headed in the opposite
direction, the report found, with a near 50 percent reduction in terms of
long-term planning, with some enterprises dropping it altogether. "This
should leave a gap in terms of early-adopters and this technology hitting the
mainstream," according to the report.

"It is no surprise that measurable solutions like deduplication and
thin provisioning are the hottest initiatives," said Marco Coulter,
managing director of the storage practice at TheInfoPro. "From the
improved utilization and overall capacity reductions we see in our research,
they are clearly delivering on the promise."

Finally, as seen in previous TheInfoPro studies, virtualization and the
cloud remain top of mind. Fifty-four percent of respondents believe that
virtualization is changing roles and responsibilities, and one in four expect
the plurality of production to be virtualized by 2012. And while a mere 8 percent
of enterprises utilize an external cloud for storage, 31 percent expect that by
2012 over 25 percent of data services will be protected through the cloud.