For some time now, manufacturers of magnetic and solid-state disk drives (SSDs) have been moving to also build and deliver storage systems themselves. Western Digital this week significantly expanded its storage systems portfolio by acquiring Tegile Systems, a provider of all-Flash arrays used for primary storage.
Phil Bullinger, senior vice president and general manager for the Data Center Systems business unit of Western Digital, says the Tegile Systems portfolio will complement the company’s ActiveScale storage systems that are optimized for Big Data applications. Western Digital acquired Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (HGST) in 2012 to gain the platforms on which ActiveScale are based. Western Digital then followed that move in 2016 by acquiring Sandisk to gain access to Flash memory.
Bullinger says via Sandisk, Western Digital has an existing OEM relationship with Tegile Systems. In addition, Western Digital was an early investor in the company, says Bullinger.
As IT organizations gear up to embrace new system architecture based on NVMe host interface, Bullinger says the time is now right to make Tegile Systems part of Western Digital. Tegile Systems unveiled a new series of NVMe-based storage systems in June.
“Tegile gives us a system for primary storage,” says Bullinger. “We’ve made it clear we’re going to be moving up the storage stack.”
As drive manufacturers such as Western Digital continue to move into the storage systems business, it’s unclear what impact that will have on competition across the storage category. In theory at least, drive manufacturers should enjoy advantages when it comes to costs and availability of technologies such as Flash memory. At the same time, however, there’s already no shortage of well-entrenched storage systems vendors in the enterprise. Whatever the outcomes, the one thing that is for certain is that competition across the storage system sector has never been more fierce.