Report: SMBs Moving Toward Enterprise-Level Data Protection

UPDATED: An IDC survey of small businesses suggests midmarket companies view security as a top business priority and are moving up to enterprise-level methods to secure data.

Even though the economy is forcing many midmarket companies to cut costs and trim budgets, security--particularly data protection--is still a top priority.

A survey by information technology research firm IDC reveals small to medium-size businesses (SMBs) are increasingly adopting technologies like replication or disk-to-disk-to-tape backup, previously seen only in enterprise datacenters. The report, Data Protection in United States SMBs: Opportunity and Analysis, analyzed SMB interests in, requirements, and purchasing behavior for data protection and also assesses the extent and nature of the U.S. SMB opportunity.

The report also found SMBs use diverse methods of data protection and data protection is a big part of storage budgets among SMBs. However, the findings indicate small businesses (SBs) and medium businesses (MBs) have different reasons for selecting data protection solutions and differ regarding their future data protection methods. IDC conducted the U.S.-only web survey of nearly 500 end users, ranging in size from 10 to 999 employees, in the second quarter of 2008.
"One thing we have found is that small and medium-sized companies generally use more than one data protection technology: only 18 percent of 181 SBs and 10 percent of 311 MBs stated using only one method of data protection," said IDC's research manager for storage systems Natalya Yezhkova. "Keep in mind that the survey was conducted before the economy meltdown. At that point, to some surprise, price was not mentioned as the most important factor in choosing a specific solution once a company has identified what technology it's going to use."
Yezhkova said for SBs, the three most popular choices of data protection were backup to tape, backup to disk to tape, and local replication. For MBs, the situation was pretty much the same, except the rates of use for backup to tape, backup to disk to tape, and local replication - almost 60 percent of MBs stated they use at least one of this three technologies.
"In general, MBs have more sophisticated IT environments and, what is more important, more likely to have dedicated IT or systems management personnel to explore and deploy more advanced data protection technologies and have data protection strategy," she said. "This also explains why for MBs ease of use is a much less important criteria in selecting data protection products than it is for SBs."
At the same time, Yezhkova explained, education of end users and channel partners about return on investment and potential cost savings will be critical for breaking through the 'pricing is too high' concern. "This is especially true when price savings are less obvious, as with online services," she said. "Vendors need to teach end users to look at the whole picture that involves all the different types of expenses associated with different approaches to data protection, including intangible benefits like the ability to restore data quickly in a case of failure."
She said on the product side, a wide selection of top vendors, including HP, Seagate/EVault and Symantec, among others, have some targeted SMB data protection solutions. In addition, there are a number of online backup/replication services providers such as Dell and IBM, to name two of the biggest. "We expect that SMBs will continue to invest in data protection," Yezhkova said.
The survey comes nearly a month after a report from Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research, which projects SMBs (small to medium-size businesses) will increase IT security spending by a full one percent. Of the issues SMBs deemed "very important," in that report, 64 percent selected data security with the next most common being business continuity/disaster recovery at 48 percent.