A&S Magazine: Seagate at the Forefront of Storage with SkyHawk Drives

This article first appeared in a&s Asia magazine. Reprinted with permission.

As companies are investing more in their physical security infrastructure to keep up with the demands of increasing storage requirements, Seagate Technology is offering customers a storage solution, SkyHawk drives, that can meet their needs now and into the future.

Seagate at the Forefront of Storage with SkyHawk DrivesSeagate Technology, a pioneer in the surveillance storage industry, has seen the industry significantly evolve over the past few years. There is growing adoption of storage-hungry technologies like higher resolution 4K, 8K cameras and drones. Companies are also looking to leverage their security systems for business intelligence with behavioral analytics and facial recognition, increasing the need for higher frame rates video quality. All these trends are pointing toward more data and an increased need for storage.

This is putting a strain on traditional infrastructures as they are not equipped for these new storage demands. And it will only become more challenging in the future. In its “Worldwide Hard Disk Drive Forecast, 2016-2020” update, IDC forecasted that the surveillance storage market will grow at over 15 percent CAGR in terms of units, while the petabytes shipped will grow at an astonishing pace of 26 percent CAGR.

With more than 10 years of knowledge and experience in the business, Seagate has identified and understood the important role of storage early on. “Surveillance is more than just the sum of its parts — cameras, recorders and storage — it is about business continuity. Customers are asking for the right approach for the best-fit storage solution that answers their needs of today and tomorrow,” remarked Sandy Sun, VP and GM for Asia-Pacific and China Sales at Seagate Technology. “Delivering best-in-class storage system is the cornerstone of many business critical applications that will help meet customers’ surveillance needs.”

It was with this mindset that Seagate launched its newly-branded, industry’s first and largest 10 TB surveillance drive, SkyHawk, to the market last year. With enhancements in capacity and product specifications, it is poised to help customers address evolving storage and data management needs, and even seize potential business opportunities.

SkyHawk Drives: Built for Surveillance

According to Sun, storage solutions should be purpose-built to best fit specific applications to ensure that the hard drives can meet certain requirements. This holds particularly true for video surveillance environments, which creates more strenuous workloads than a standard hard disk drive (HDD) can handle.

“The most common mistake that customers make is that they are drawn towards the lower cost of standard consumer HDDs. They also have the impression that these HDDs will sufficiently support their video surveillance ecosystem while not recognizing the significant reliability and performance trade-offs,”said Sun.

Not only do the storage solutions need to physically withstand the vibration and heat in multi-drive systems, they have to perform effectively 24/7. Moreover, factors such as longer retention periods to comply with legal requirements, footage archiving needs and multiple-camera higher resolution recordings all translate to a need for more and better storage capacity.

Named after the hawk that watches the world around it in precise detail and is ever ready for action, the SkyHawk drives are tailor-made for surveillance, designed to withstand heavy workloads of 180 TB/year and offer safe video storage with 1M MTBF.

Enhancing Performance with ImagePerfect Firmware

To directly address the unique challenges posed by security applications, the SkyHawk drives feature Seagate’s ImagePerfect firmware. This is based on a multi-tier caching (MTC) technology that combines media components to create different cache layers. The resulting larger memory enables better buffering which improves both read and write performance. The drives are now capable of writing data 90 percent of the time, and supporting seamless video recording environments of up to 64 HD video streams, which is 3x the workload rate of a standard HDD.

SkyHawk drives also offer RAID capabilities for multi-bay drives and lower power costs. The firmware has built-in error correction codes and disaster recovery algorithms for zero dropped frames to ensure high video quality while command completion times (CCT) are kept low to limit the recovery time allowed for error handling. Thus, providing users smooth playback and high integrity video streaming that can be used for real-time big data analytics.

Vibration is a common issue faced by multi-bay surveillance systems that can result in performance degradation. In extreme conditions, the drive may stop functioning. SkyHawk drives are equipped with AcuTrac technology which entails dual actuators which tighten control and better position the reader head to specific tracks on the drive’s surface despite external disturbances. Also, rotational vibration (RV) sensors are installed to detect vibrations and let the system adjust accordingly.

Greater Surveillance Storage Demands Ahead

Since Asia is home to some of the largest cities in the world, Seagate sees a lot of potential in the Asian market as more and more national and local governments are turning to technology to help enforce and expand public infrastructure. According to Sun, current smart city initiatives not only use these surveillance systems to “watch over” the activities, but also to collect information that can be used by officials to improve service operations and policy making.

As the amount of information that can be collected by surveillance systems is growing at an exponential rate, so will the need for storage. Data storage would not only have to be safe, but also fast and cost-effective. “Storage will become a bigger proportion of surveillance systems spend and it is important to choose a solution that is reliable, with the capacity to support data increase,” said Sun.

With Seagate’s industry foresight and the release of its surveillance-optimized drive, SkyHawk, it has already established itself a strong position in the industry. The company’s continuous commitment to developing technologies that will answer the specific needs of this segment will only bring it even forward on the forefront of surveillance storage.


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