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IBM: IT managers are facing storage squeeze

Faced with information overload, IT departments will struggle to deal with issues of business risk, warns IBM's storage chief

Balancing the need to manage and store unprecedented amounts of data while adhering to increasingly strict legislation around protection and retrieval is putting a huge burden on IT management, according to IBM's general manager for systems storage, Andy Monshaw.

Giving the keynote speech at the Storage Networking World (SNW) show and conference in Frankfurt on Tuesday, Monshaw said that two years ago the storage industry had passed "an inflection point" that had seen storage requirements spiral upwards.

"Until that point, data was predictable [and] you could understand what your storage capacities were going to be in the next year or so," he said. "What has happened over the last couple of years… is that this business has spiked."

There were a number of reasons for the rise, Monshaw said, including an overall growth in business and the growth in unstructured data. But perhaps the biggest issue was "the whole onslaught of regulatory and compliance regulations", Monshaw said. That meant "you had to change the way you think about data and the way you store it", he added.

According to Monshaw: "This phenomenon is creating a situation where you can barely keep up with the requirements."

One of the problems is that government regulations around keeping data for a set period vary from country to county, and often between different government departments. As a result it is difficult for IT managers to work out how long to keep information.

According to IBM's Monshaw, companies have to make sure that their data is resilient, which means that it is not only stored but that they can access it.

IBM's own data shows that you can draw a curve of cost versus resiliency, which means balancing the cost of storing the data and the cost of being able to access it.

IT managers have a lot on their plate, Monshaw added. "Data is growing at an unprecedented rate, but get used to it, because it is not going to slow down. There will be more data, more digitised data and more compliance."