Firms must learn to manage their storage space effectively or risk haemorrhaging cash on under-utilised and expensive solutions that fail to meet their business needs. A panel of storage experts from industry giants including Dell and IBM issued the warning to firms as big data drives the need for more effective storage.

Neil Lathwood, technical director at hosting and cloud specialist UKFast said: “With buzzwords like big data and thin-provisioning circulating the business IT world, storage is finally becoming a ‘trendy’ topic but little is actually being done by businesses themselves to combat the ever-growing needs and the costs associated with these needs.”

Andy Hardy, head of storage sales at Dell UK, said: “The cost of storage is an escalating problem because the amount of storage that we need to deal with, our business data, grows very rapidly – doubling capacity around every two years – but our budgets don’t grow alongside this.”

As businesses come to rely on more digital data than ever, the solution to accommodate the operational costs of managing huge data sets is to ensure that the storage space businesses have is managed as efficiently as possible, advised Lee McEvoy of ISI UK.

“Organisations need to find a storage solution that will help them improve their storage efficiencies. It’s the dirty secret of storage that there are huge utilisation inefficiencies. For every 100TB of disk you buy, you may only be storing 30TB of data on there.

“Through storage virtualisation, compression or auto-tiering, firms will have flexible, cost-effective storage solutions that can dynamically grow with business needs.”

Barry Whyte, virtual storage performance architect at IBM warned: “Businesses must address how they can get their operational costs down as soon as possible by investing in technologies that will help them get more out of what they have already got.”

The panel agreed that ensuring businesses use the space available to them as effectively as possible is the key to preventing huge operating costs to store mission-critical business data. However, Hardy warned: “Don’t be fooled into buying the cheapest solution from the start because although the capex is low, you don’t know what you will need in the future so may end up spending vast amounts adding to it as your needs develop.”

Gavin McLaughlin, solutions development director at X-IO, also warned of the wasted investment in storage through not properly assessing your storage needs from the outset.

He said: “We’re seeing some big enterprises that have gone down the line of cheap storage that takes a lot of management, and some at the other end of the scale that deliberately overspend so that they know their data is always available. There are tools that can move data between levels or storage mediums dependent upon why and when you need the data to give a much more efficient solution.”