Ravi Pendekanti: How Western Digital’s HDD innovation is lowering total cost of ownership

    Image: knssr/Adobe Stock
    Big knowledge retains getting larger in enterprise knowledge facilities. While knowledge storage options are kind of maintaining, many firms are struggling to seek out storage choices that steadiness capability, safety and accessibility with enterprise IT funds limitations. As enterprise knowledge doubles, triples or grows much more exponentially sooner or later, how can companies retailer all of this knowledge with out throwing their budgets out the window?
    SEE: Checklist: Cloud storage administration (TechRepublic Premium)
    Western Digital, a {hardware} and software program firm that focuses on onerous disk drives and different varieties of storage options, has been engaged on optimizing its current merchandise and creating new ones to assist clients handle whole value of possession. Ravi Pendekanti, SVP of product administration and advertising for the HDD Business Unit at Western Digital, lately spoke with TechRepublic about a few of the firm’s improvements which are making decrease TCO doable.
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    About the Western Digital HDD portfolio
    TechRepublic: What drawback(s) is Western Digital fixing by increasing its HDD expertise?
    Pendekanti: First and foremost, we see extra knowledge being saved now than ever earlier than; it’s mentioned that every of us might be storing two instances extra knowledge this 12 months than final 12 months. With that mentioned, the massive problem that the majority clients have is how to verify infrastructure prices don’t spiral uncontrolled.
    Let’s say we develop our storage wants by 100%. That sadly doesn’t imply that your IT funds can be doubling, so we now have gone again, and utilizing that drawback because the backdrop, we now have been specializing in a couple of issues to enhance the TCO for our clients.
    Image: Western Digital
    We are making enhancements from the angle of placing out higher-density or higher-capacity drives. Gone are the times when folks used to speak about single-digit terabytes. Western Digital has launched the best capability drives with 22 terabytes in typical magnetic recording expertise, and we’re doing the identical factor on the identical drive with shingled magnetic recording expertise, which may go as much as 26 terabytes.
    My level is that we’re including extra capability, however we’re additionally being cognizant of the truth that we now have completely different applied sciences: CMR versus SMR.
    SEE: Quick glossary: Storage (TechRepublic Premium)
    SMR provides extra punch. But as we use SMR, we’ve realized that we now have to make sure that the TCO half is taken care of. This is the place we’re starting to make use of flash expertise quite than dynamic random entry reminiscence expertise to decrease our prices.
    We additionally launched one thing referred to as OptiNAND inside our drives, which makes use of flash quite than DRAM. There is all the time going to be DRAM, however we need to use flash and hold the scale of the DRAM as small as doable to maintain the fee down. As we do all this, we need to be sure our drives are as safe as doable. So it’s the trifecta of capability, safety after which, after all, efficiency.
    The emergence and development of SMR expertise
    TechRepublic: What are the newest applied sciences that you simply and your clients are beginning to undertake?
    Pendekanti: We’ve been speaking about SMR for plenty of years now, however the adoption has been slower than we might have preferred. The good factor, although, is within the final 12 months, we now have discovered extra of the massive cloud suppliers leaping on the bandwagon as a result of they’re working into storage points too. Everybody, whether or not it’s a small firm or a giant one, has OpEx and CapEx challenges. You don’t have an infinite funds, as a lot as everyone want to.
    But there’s one different salient level, which I believe can be vital: Power is turning into a problem for lots of consumers. If you return even 5 to 6 years from the place we at the moment are, the price of energy has gone up practically 30 to 40%, which is large. This is why in our design, we now have stored observe of energy utilization and the way it scales.
    SMR adoption is getting higher now. We are happy with our SMR adoption to the purpose that we’re predicting that throughout the subsequent three to 4 years, practically 40% of the capability that’s utilized will likely be SMR.
    SEE: What does ‘data-driven’ actually imply? (TechRepublic)
    OptiNAND is one other new expertise we only in the near past launched. As we have a look at all this, we’re persevering with to vary our firmware to make sure that we now have larger areal density. What I imply by areal density is ensuring that we will put extra bits on a single platter.
    It’s analogous to — we have been speaking about flights, proper? Every airline is attempting to see what number of extra seats they’ll pack. If an airline has 100 seats on a aircraft, they consider that for those who add in possibly six extra seats, you’ll get extra income.
    Likewise, once we begin taking a look at our drives, we need to pack extra density onto them. The method we begin doing that’s by ensuring we will put extra bits on a single platter. The easy components is, for those who put extra bits on a single platter and also you add extra platters, the density of the drive goes up.
    TechRepublic: What is SMR and the way does it work?
    Pendekanti: It’s a shingled magnetic recording, and this idea could be very easy. If you have a look at the shingles on your own home, they don’t actually sit adjoining to one another; you will note they overlap a bit.

    Must-read massive knowledge protection

    If you set shingles all throughout your roof and so they’re solely adjoining to one another, you possibly can solely placed on so many shingles. If you make the shingles overlap a bit, you possibly can add extra shingles in the identical capability or in the identical space. That’s basically what SMR is. With the shingled method, you’re in a position so as to add extra capability. To be capable to do SMR successfully, the client has to make modifications to their knowledge storage.
    Because modifications are wanted, SMR adoption was slightly sluggish at first: If you requested me possibly a couple of years in the past, the quantity of capability that was being deployed utilizing SMR was a single-digit proportion. Today, we’re within the 20% to 25% vary, and fast-forward a pair extra years, we predict it’ll be 40% plus.
    People at the moment are starting to know the massive profit it gives. The TCO is clearly advantageous as a result of they’re in a position so as to add extra capability.
    How HDD works for firms of all sizes
    TechRepublic: What sorts of firms can most profit from HDD innovation?
    Pendekanti: We suppose conventional CMR expertise can be utilized by anybody, since you don’t actually must make any modifications. On the appliance facet, the client doesn’t must make any modifications, and that’s the fantastic thing about it.
    The SMR expertise offers you extra density — a CMR drive may give you 22 terabytes whereas an SMR drive may give you 26 — however to get that extra capability, the client should make some modifications. That’s why SMR is predominantly being adopted by massive cloud suppliers.
    SEE: 9 prime Dropbox alternate options: Free and premium instruments (TechRepublic)
    The CMR expertise as it’s doesn’t want any modifications and is being adopted by varied clients, whereas the SMR is predominantly for these clients who can make investments on their facet to make modifications. That’s by and huge been the cloud suppliers, as a result of they have a look at not tens of hundreds of drives however quite lots of of hundreds of drives. For them to speculate is sensible, and so they get a incredible return on funding.
    HDD and the push for sustainability
    TechRepublic: How are your HDD options serving to companies meet ESG and different sustainability requirements?
    Pendekanti: We are working with a few of our clients via the printed circuit board assemblies we now have on the drives. They ship us their PCBAs, and we offer them with a few of the instruments they should successfully take away them. Due to safety issues, clients don’t need to simply ship a drive, as a result of who is aware of what’s going to occur within the switch or what nefarious characters may get the info.
    What we’re doing is offering the mandatory know-how and instruments to a few of our clients to securely take away and ship PCBAs. This is definitely a pilot we’re working via, as a result of once more, maintaining the info secure is vital.
    SEE: Data governance guidelines in your group (TechRepublic Premium)
    It’s virtually analogous to once we recycle our personal laptops: We be sure we take the drives out earlier than we give the laptops to the recycling facility. So when Western Digital gives the instruments and the know-how, our clients are in a position to retrieve the PCBAs after which ship them to us. Then we undergo the method of extracting the metals so we will put them into reuse.
    We have what I name a round economic system of solids. Those clients are eager to now allow us to return and use these PCBAs within the new drives. That’s one thing that we now have began off as a pilot, as a result of we’d like to verify the purchasers are comfy with it.
    This subsequent level goes again to how we need to be sure the ability for these high-capacity drives doesn’t hold going up as capability goes up. Every nation appears to have a problem with energy, and it’s getting costlier. We additionally need to guarantee that we don’t pollute the water or the air with our energy utilization. There are a number of thermal crops around the globe elevating air pollution, so we don’t need to use extra of those sources than are wanted.
    SEE: Top 5 advantages of making use of ESG requirements to your small business (TechRepublic)
    One of the weather of our design has all the time been to maintain the ability per terabyte constant. When you go from 20 to 26 terabytes, that’s a big uplift. It’s 30% extra capability, if you consider it, however that doesn’t imply it ought to take 30% extra energy. Our objective is to maintain it virtually linear, and that’s why our design methodology is to maintain that in thoughts once we design our merchandise.
    Making massive knowledge accessible with the best storage expertise
    TechRepublic: HDD storage offers you extra capability to retailer knowledge, however does it concurrently make that knowledge extra accessible to enterprise customers?
    Pendekanti: This is the place I’ll draw a distinction to indicate why I believe that is turning into essential. There are applied sciences like tape: People nonetheless use tapes to retailer knowledge for archival functions, which is nice, as a result of the fantastic thing about tapes, after all, is a decrease value per bit. When you don’t use them or entry them, you possibly can set your tape apart.
    The actual concern turns into: What occurs when you really want to entry the info? Then you need to return, retrieve the best tape, put it in and skim it. That can take anyplace from hours to days to get the best knowledge.
    SEE: Cloud knowledge storage coverage (TechRepublic Premium)
    In the present age, it’s not nearly having the info at your fingertips. You must also be capable to entry it, as a result of for those who can’t entry the info, then what good does it do? This is the place HDD continues to supply the best steadiness between having the ability to retailer large quantities of knowledge at a decrease value per bit whereas additionally offering you with a reasonably balanced method of accessing it.
    It is claimed we now have shut to at least one zettabyte plus of knowledge that’s on drives. In the subsequent three to 5 years, we’re supposed so as to add one other three to 4 zettabytes. As extra knowledge is being saved, all of us must discover a resolution for managing it. On the flip facet, it is usually about ensuring that we now have the correct quantity of flexibility within the resolution to serve up knowledge when wanted.
    The future of knowledge storage
    TechRepublic: What does the way forward for knowledge storage appear to be to you?
    Pendekanti: As we develop issues like AI and machine studying applied sciences, folks speak about them and need to use them. People neglect that if you wish to do machine studying or deep studying, you want a number of knowledge after which it is advisable retailer it.
    SEE: The deep studying and evaluation certification bundle (TechRepublic Academy)
    It’s not going to cease, as a result of there’s additionally regulatory knowledge to think about. Look at HIPAA. In healthcare, for instance, there are stringent protocols and knowledge security issues and questions on how and the way lengthy knowledge must be retained.
    Read subsequent: Best knowledge preparation software program (TechRepublic)
    New knowledge storage wants are in all places you look. As folks speak about AI, machine studying, deep studying, IoT and edge computing, all of those improvements are including extra knowledge. Once you see this development line, you possibly can perceive why we’ll see extra knowledge being created and needing to be saved going ahead.
    About Ravi Pendekanti
    Ravi Pendekanti
    Ravi Pendekanti is senior vice chairman of product administration and advertising for the HDD Business Unit at Western Digital, the place he leads HDD product planning, pricing, phase advertising and aggressive evaluation. He is liable for the technique, roadmap design and go-to-market method for the expansive HDD product household and for driving desire for Western Digital’s HDD portfolio throughout shopper, enterprise and OEM markets.
    Note: This interview has been edited for size and readability.

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