The role hard disk drives (HDDs) will officially play in the data center still may be up for debate, but when it comes to primary storage, no one doubts they still have a significant role in the enterprise.
Pressured by a sharp rise in the amount of unstructured data that needs to be managed, IT organizations have an acute need for more efficient ways of storing data. Barbara Craig, a senior product marketing manager for Seagate, says the Seagate Enterprise Capacity 3.5 HDD v4 series of HDDs meets that challenge by providing a 50 percent boost in capacity over 4TB drives at the same cost per gigabyte, while boosting performance using 12Gbps SAS interfaces. In addition, versions of the v4 series are available in 2, 4 and 5TB configurations that use fewer platters than the 6TB model.
Craig says Seagate achieved those performance gains in part by leveraging the latest SAS interface and by the company’s own efforts to optimize the performance of existing HDD technology. In contrast, rival manufacturers are introducing slower HDDs that make use of helium to increase capacity in a way that winds up driving up the cost per terabyte paid by customers. At the same time, Seagate is pursuing new shingled designs for HDDs that could boost capacity even further.
Primary storage is growing rapidly, and the role of the HDD in the enterprise for the foreseeable future is assured. What’s not clear, though, is how classes of data need to be accessible and on what types of devices.
In addition, the way HDDs are brought into the enterprise is evolving. It’s becoming a lot more common for enterprise IT organizations to buy their drives directly from manufacturers and plug them into storage arrays themselves—a trend that is sure to grow as software-defined storage systems become more the norm in the years ahead.
Taken together, these two trends clearly mean drive manufacturers want to have a direct dialogue with internal IT organizations that are not only buying storage arrays, but also specifying and sometimes even buying drives themselves at a much lower cost than when the drives came bundled with the storage system.
Naturally, it’s going to take a while for all these changes to the storage landscape to play out. But once they do, IT organizations are likely to have access to bigger, better, faster storage systems, and more control over the overall storage environment.