Backup-as-a-service Vs Storage-as-a-service

Despite the phenomenal growth in data, storage-as-a-service seems to be lagging behind backup-as-a-service. We take a look at the reasons behind this trend

The storage market in India is on a growth trajectory. Digitization initiatives across verticals are spawning huge amounts of data that needs to be stored.  The booming e-commerce market is aggressively procuring technology. Flipkart, for instance, is acquiring 20,000 servers each quarter – numbers that brick and mortar players like Shoppers Stop wouldn’t have done in 10 years.  Such strong compute consumption warrants a matching focus on the storage front.  And all this is when the real impact of IoT (Internet of Things) is yet to be seen. In such a scenario, it would make sense for any enterprise technology decision maker to migrate to the cloud, and save precious capex.  However, this is not the case, and there are several reasons for it. Firstly, CIOs have moved from capacity-oriented architecture to performance-oriented architecture. They no longer look at procuring large capacities in one go.  Working closely with vendors, CIOs deploy scalable solutions, and expand as and when the need arises. Secondly, storage technologies such as compression and de-duplication are further enabling CIOs to maximize existing deployments before turning to new implementations. Thirdly, the associated issues of security and downtime with cloud are preventing enterprises to go all and embrace cloud. There have been bad experiences for enterprises, which have abandoned cloud to move back to on-premise. So, looking at all these facets, it doesn’t make a compelling business case for CIOs to migrate to the cloud. But what is it that is fueling the growth of cloud backup market? Why are there indications that the growth of backup-as-a-service will surpass that of storage-as-a-service? To begin with, there is still a lot of tape storage (Linear Tape-Open or LTO) in both the government and corporate sectors in India. To keep up with the onslaught of new storage technologies, tape storage has also evolved over the years from second generation to the fourth generation (LTO-2 to LTO-6). However, there is lack of compatibility between LTO-4 and LTO-6. This implies that a CIO can’t carry out backup on LTO-4 and restore it on LTO-6. The only way forward for him is to invest in the infrastructure and upgrade it. With IT budgets already under pressure, this makes for a tough call. The other alternative for an enterprise technology leader is to leverage cloud. Backup-as-a-service allows him to defer the infrastructure upgrade. It makes even more sense for certain verticals (healthcare, for instance) where, for compliance reasons, there has to be a backup of data for as long as 7-10 years. With competitive pricing from cloud backup players, and starting from a small base, backup-as-a-service is at an inflection point. By the way, just to give you a sense of the fast-growing and maturing enterprise storage space in India, the next three quarters could witness the share of flash storage reaching the threshold of 50 percent of the overall storage market.  But that’s a story for another day.

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