Nearline HDD: The Cloud Dominates Enterprise Storage Demand

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Mainstay for inexpensive, reliable bulk storage

Nearline HDD blueprintCapacity enterprise, or nearline HDDs are a mainstay for inexpensive, reliable bulk storage, utilized by nearly all enterprise market segments, including servers, network or external storage and hyperscale or could service providers.

For as long as TRENDFOCUS has been tracking these shipments (as far back as 2008), nearline HDD unit volumes have increased from 3 to 5 million per quarter to surpassing 10 million per quarter. However, the growth in unit shipments has followed an uneven pattern of growth and sometimes contraction, based on large hyperscale buying patterns.

Seeking the highest capacity storage

Hyperscale as a whole has typically gravitated to the highest capacity nearline HDDs available and now absorb the vast majority of 8 TB models.

In CQ2 ’16, 8 TB once again represented the highest volume nearline capacity shipped, by a long shot, outpacing 4 TB – the next highest volume capacity) by 60%.

25 percent more petabytes per rackMore striking is the capacity-shipped metric. In CQ2 ’16 the 8 TB and 10 TB capacities represented 55% of total nearline exabytes (billions of GB) shipped.

On a unit basis, hyperscale customers consume in the range of 40% to 50% of nearline units shipped in recent quarters. It is no wonder that HDD vendors have focused efforts on nearline HDD development, especially given that the cloud in all its forms is on a consistent growth path over the long term.

JOHN CHEN is vice president at TRENDFOCUS, directing Cloud, Hyperscale, & Enterprise Storage Service and client end market demand modeling.


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