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IT Priorities 2020: Covid-19 consolidates storage push to cloud

The emphasis on home and remote working has been felt in storage and backup as in all areas of IT, with continued evolution towards the cloud and as-a-service storage and backup

The Covid-19 pandemic’s key impact on storage and backup has been to amplify the push towards cloud computing and to downgrade some key on-premise storage technologies – such as SAN – in UK IT department plans.

Those are key findings of the latest, updated edition of the TechTarget/Computer Weekly IT Priorities Survey 2020 and looking into the first half of 2021. The survey questioned nearly 1,000 IT decision-makers in organisations that ranged from small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) to large enterprises, with 123 of them being in the UK.

The pandemic has boosted home and remote working, and hand-in-hand with that is an increase in the use of cloud services across all IT operations.

Increased use of cloud storage was prominent among these for UK respondents – which mirrored the worldwide trend – with cloud storage the fourth most widespread and popular IT project for this year. Storage as a service also figured highly among projects planned for the next 12 months.

When asked which projects had become easier to justify, there was a clear emphasis on those that facilitated remote working and made it secure. Remote working enablement topped the list, with 46% choosing it as a topic that had become easier to justify during the pandemic. Next was security and risk management (37%).

In third place was cloud storage, compute, applications, and so on, which was chosen by 36% of respondents.

Backup and disaster recovery came ninth in a list of 12 topics that were indicated as priority projects by more than 10% of those questioned.

Meanwhile, fourth on a list of areas deemed to have been made more difficult to justify by the pandemic was on-premise storage (10%). Top of that list was “staff”, with 35% declaring that the most difficult cost to justify in current conditions.

All this comes against the context of budgets in general mostly holding flat. That was the case for 58% of respondents in the UK, although they had shrunk by more than 5% for 35% of those questioned.

In that context, the most prominent project spending plans for 2021 were those that facilitate remote working, namely cloud storage and storage as a service, which were marked as priorities by 50% and 33% of respondents respectively.

On-premise, 29% of those questioned placed NAS file access storage as a deployment priority for 2021. That’s the same as last year. Elsewhere, SAN deployments ranked seventh (13%). In 2019, that figure was 23%.

The rising star of recent years – hyper-converged infrastructure – was indicated as a priority by 8% of respondents. That was the same figure as object storage, also at 8%, and holding steady from 9% last year.

Priorities in backup also reflected the conditions brought by remote working during the pandemic.

Perhaps reflecting the greater risk profile of increased remote working, ransomware protection topped the list, with 33% of those questioned citing it as a priority for 2021.

Disaster recovery and business continuity came next, at 29%, followed by endpoint backup – clearly a concern given the rise in remote working – at 25%.

Meanwhile, those planning to deploy backup hardware or software comprised 13% of respondents, while software-as-a-service backup and backup as a service garnered 13% and 8% of responses respectively.

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