Top SMB Cloud and Storage Predictions for 2012

Paul Mah
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As the end of the year approaches, it is time once again to make predictions about the technology we can expect to see in 2012. On the cloud front at least, online storage company Symform thinks that 2012 will be all about data - how to store, secure, access and manage it. According to the company, this will hardly be a large enterprise trend either, but one that will impact millions of small and mid-sized businesses (SMB), as well as the service providers that deliver solutions to them.


"Globally, the volume of data is growing at an accelerating, record pace. It is simply not possible for companies or service providers to continue managing and storing data with traditional local or offsite methodologies," said Matthew J. Schiltz, CEO of Symform in a statement. Schiltz noted that the anticipated growth and associated issues with traditional offsite storage will force a revolution in the industry.


The company sent me a list of its top predictions on the cloud and storage front. I've highlighted a trio of the ones most pertinent to SMBs below.


2012 will mark the beginning of a "cloud storage revolution."


Symform is predicting that the gap between the costs of local storage versus that of offsite storage will widen even as data experiences a 50 percent growth by 2020 - according to analyst IDC. The cloud storage company puts it this way: "With 4TB drives on the horizon under $100, businesses will balk at paying $1,000 per month to back up a $100 local drive." The statement refers to the average cost of about $100 per 2TB disk drive, and compares it to the $1,000 per month costs of storing a similar amount of data on EMC's MozyPro service at $0.50/GB per month.


The "green" data center for cloud computing will be debunked.


Cloud computing allows computational resources to be pooled into shared online services, and has always been considered a greener alternative compared to onsite servers that are generally underutilized. However, Symform argues that data centers are already accounting for 14 percent of all carbon emissions. Left unchecked, the company is of the opinion that a staggering 25 percent of the nation's power will be required for data centers by 2020.


Obviously, Symform is attempting to insinuate that the company's distributed Resilient Storage Architecture is not worse off from a power perspective. Ultimately, though, I agree that businesses need to consider the power overheads required to keep the hard disk drives going within data centers when making a decision on the merits of offline data backup.


2012 will be a wake-up call for SMBs to reassess current storage and backup practices.


Symform is of the opinion that SMBs are the most vulnerable against cloud outages, with some never fully recovering from a major data loss. This is exacerbated by the fact that at least 15 percent of SMBs have no data backup or business continuity plans. Interestingly, the company thinks that SMBs will re-evaluate their buying criteria on the cloud storage front come 2012, and will opt for more secure and enterprise-class solutions over prosumer options such as iCloud and Dropbox.


Personally, I think that 2012 will see cloud storage entering into a more mature phrase. Already, more business-grade NAS storage appliances are starting to incorporate support for performing backups directly into the cloud. To me, this appears to be a tacit admission that cloud storage offers a real value proposition, and is unlikely to be going away soon.

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