Corporate IT operations will work to improve capacity-control systems, drive disaster recovery centralization and consistency, and bring in new technology to support the rapid growth of virtualization and personal storage systems, according to IDC's top 10 storage predictions for 2007.

The top ten storage industry predictions by the market research company for the remainder of this year are:

1. A vendor battle will erupt as companies extend storage architectures to include branch and remote offices.

2. Companies will continue to develop consistent companywide disaster recovery plans.

3. Networking firms will add security systems for tape drives on corporate networks.

4. Explosion in storing file-based data will drive investments in file virtualization and clustered file systems.

5. Storage virtualization will drive greater adoption of server virtualization.

6. Businesses will adopt risk-based governance for information management and analysis.

7. There will be significant growth in the personal storage business, which will also create new services opportunities for vendors.

8. Server and data management tools will become key parts of networked storage systems.

9. Management of server and storage systems will blend together.

10. Further transitions will continue to affect storage technologies.

In the new report, IDC storage analysts predict that corporate efforts to consolidate their storage infrastructure and extend it to branch or remote offices - particularly those spread out over large areas - will develop into a large headache for storage and IT administrators in 2007.

The study also tells end users to expect more automation, improved wide-area file services and remote replication services to ease remote data management constraints.

In addition, IDC predicted that efforts to push business continuity and disaster recovery efforts to branch offices and midsize businesses will prove fortuitous for storage vendors that sell disk-to-disk, disk-to-tape continuous data protection, heterogeneous remote replication and virtual tape offerings that support tiered storage.

The research firm also said that it expects removable media and tape-encryption planning to play a crucial role this year as growing fears about potential loss or theft of information and the need to keep up with compliance and data retention needs spurs IT managers to deploy and manage new security frameworks for tape environments.

Meanwhile, organizations should not be surprised to see networking vendors come out with technology aimed at companies looking for a basic level of removable media protection. This process already started with several vendor actions, such as the joint effort announcment last month by Cisco Systems and its RSA Security unit.

IDC also predicted significant growth in sales of file virtualization and clustered technologies, as well as storage virtualization enhancements surrounding storage-area network drivers, data replication and the marriage of storage and server virtualization systems. The company also forecast tighter integration of content management, unified messaging and security products to satisfy electronic discovery and records-retention demands.