No R.I.P. For Hard Disk Technology

Even as solid-state storage continues to expand its share of the storage market, hard disks—particularly high-capacity drives—are still in demand.

  • November 8, 2021 | Author: Rich Castagna
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For many, NAND Flash’s swift ascent into the storage market meant hard-disk media would soon become the lumbering dinosaurs of enterprise storage, nudged out of existence by speedy solid-state devices. It seemed like deja vu all over again, with hard disks paralleling tape’s slow decline into niche roles in data centers.

But, like tape, hard disk tech has a few more tricks up its sleeve and is far from obsolete. In fact, hard disk sales, both in terms of units sold and capacity shipped, remain a healthy, sustaining market. In a recent report, IDC predicted a compound annual overall capacity growth rate of 18.5 percent, from 2020 to 2025, and also forecast a CAGR of over 25 percent for average capacity per shipped drive. 
Hard drive growth has largely been unaffected by surging SSD sales, as hard disk vendors have shifted from performance and capacity product lines to focus on ultra-capacity drives. Those 16TB, 18TB and 20TB drives are being gobbled up by cloud storage and app services big and small. They are also being bought by enterprises racing to keep pace with the massive amounts of data they’re creating. And even more capacious hard-disk drives are on the way.
The strength of the hard disk market is a sign that the entire storage market is healthy and thriving. The amount of data that organizations are creating and collecting is staggering, as are the storage requirements to safely house that data. 
As mentioned in the recent blog Are Your Clients Ready For The Zettabyte Data Boom? total world data in 2020 was around 50 zettabytes and it could expand to 175 zettabytes by 2025. The ripple effect of organizations stashing more and more data away into storage environments adds new life to the data protection and backup and disaster recovery markets.
It also creates new requirements with emerging tools such as AI-enhanced storage management and tiering. Object-storage operating systems are near-perfect companions to multi-petabyte storage farms, offering almost limitless capacity and expanded, customizable metadata that makes keeping tabs on all those bits and bytes a much easier task.
Whether you’re a VAR or solution provider serving the storage market, the current and forecasted hard disk sales numbers are another sign of big opportunities on the rise.

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