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It’s not news that the amount of digital content in the world is increasing much faster than IT’s ability to store it and make it readily accessible. It is news, however, when two separate surveys report that storage spending is so out of control that it is having a serious impact on overall IT budgets.

According to a survey conducted the week of Dec. 18 by MonoSphere, which makes storage capacity planning software, 83 percent of the 140 storage professionals surveyed face an increase in capital expenditures on storage, with 41 percent of the total saying storage spending is increasing faster than their overall IT budgets.

As a result, nearly two-thirds of respondents said increased storage spending is causing a financial problem for their organizations—often at the expense of other IT projects that could be helping the business become more competitive.

“This survey illustrates that capital expenditures on storage are rapidly escalating and are causing companies to delay other important IT initiatives,” said Frank Kettenstock, MonoSphere’s vice president of marketing, in Redwood City, Calif.

The surveyed organizations’ storage size varied from less than 99TB to 1 petabyte or greater. While 62 percent of the respondents in the survey said increased storage spending had caused financial problems for the IT budget, the number escalated to 87 percent when the data set was narrowed to only executives titled at the director level and above who manage more than 100 terabytes of stored data. Of that smaller group, 36 percent said they had had to delay other IT projects due to the increase in storage expenditures.

In general, Kettenstock said, companies have enough capacity to store their data but are constantly struggling to access and protect it in a reasonable fashion.

“The data explosion is causing the need to store to explode, but the key thing is knowing how to store data efficiently,” Kettenstock told eWEEK.

Most IT shops are advised by storage hardware vendors to utilize 85 percent of their capacities, but MonoSphere has found through its research that only about 36 percent of that capacity is actually “written to disk,” Kettenstock said. “So companies, in general, have plenty of capacity. It’s just learning how to manage that capacity that’s the trick. It’s expensive to manage all that capacity you’re not using,” he said.

IT departments should use a “systematic approach to storage capacity planning, which can improve companies’ storage utilization and significantly reduce capital expense spending,” Kettenstock said.

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A second survey by TheInfoPro in New York City revealed that nearly half of Fortune 1000 companies said they would spend more in all areas—and particularly storage—citing progressive implementation of BC/DR/RRDM (business continuity/data recovery/data mirroring) initiatives, regulatory influences, and increasing numbers of applications and amounts of data as the primary drivers.

In most cases, organizations also reported they are including not just regional but also potential national and global disasters in their business continuity plans and initiatives.

“Four years ago, when we started surveying Fortune 1000 companies every six months, the average overall data capacity involved a Fibre Channel network and was about 44 terabytes of storage,” Rob Stevenson, managing director of TheInfoPro’s Storage Sector, told eWEEK.

“Now it’s up to 698 terabytes [on average] and climbing—in only four years’ time. We’ve seen NAS [network-attached storage] capacities move from an average of 5TB to 198TB at the same time.”

The findings for the study by TheInfoPro, conducted during the last few months, were derived from hour-long interviews with 91 members of the consultancy’s network of prescreened IT professionals from Fortune 1000 and midsize enterprises.

“Business continuity planning has again taken center stage in the list of priorities with the Fortune 1000 and MSEs [midsize enterprises]. Of those we interviewed, 75 percent have a formal BC/DR program in place, at varying stages of use and expansion,” said Myron Kerstetter, a managing director at the TheInfoPro. “Organizations have placed RPO [recovery point objective] and RTO [recovery time objective] times, together with application tiering, as the key aspects of BC/DR planning and monitoring.”

The findings in MonoSphere’s survey are consistent with TheInfoPro study, which indicates that storage capacity planning is one of the top storage issues organizations face today, Stevenson said.

“Companies need to be innovative, and they need to take the necessary steps to proactively manage storage growth by developing effective storage-capacity plans and maximizing utilization of existing storage assets,” Stevenson said.

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