Image by ConsumerReports.org

“Despite recent popularity of solid state storage (SSD) devices, the overwhelming majority of digital data is still stored on magnetic recording media—namely, hard disk drives (HDD)—which are the very foundation of almost every data center.”

This according to a recent article by Seagate engineering titled “How to Select the Right HDDs for Demanding Data Centers.” The article calls for data centers to look at HDD selection based on utility.  What’s more they make a direct link between utility and reliability, and we could imagine warranty.  Sound familiar? To me it sounds like HDD warranties may go the route of the auto industry. Could you imagine a  warranty that states:

 “5 Years or 2750 Terabytes whichever comes first?”

It’s not entirely out of the question. Seagate engineers coined this approach “Workload Ratings”  and have focused the initial discussion on Nearline HDDs (enterprise class 7,200 RPM or less). The discussion around workload ratings is a result of increased interest and focus on cloud data center operators’ desire to lower total cost of ownership (TCO).  

We all know that HDDs by the thousands can be found in cloud data centers across the globe, so it makes sense for data center managers to look at the HDD as a way to lower TCO.  One way to do this is to use desktop class drives which carry a lower acquisition cost, but as we have stated in the past, the true TCO of desktop drive use in 24 x 7 enterprise applications goes way beyond purchase price.  Additional factors that must also be taken into consideration include:

1. Operating conditions
2. Usage time
3. Temperature Stress
4. Workload Stress

The article goes into great detail in each of these areas, so I will spare you of simply regurgitating the facts. Instead, check out the article for yourself.  There is even a handy chart that compares workload ratings for Nearline Lite (Enterprise Value / Terascale HDDs) and Nearline (Enterprise Capacity 3.5) HDDs. 

And, tell us what you think.  Should hard drives adopt car-like warranties?

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