Analysts look at Storage Drivers – Storage Visions 2011
January 4, 2010, Storage Visions Las Vegas-a panel of analysts look at trends in storage for media. Dennis Wade from Peripheral Research moderated the panel, comprised of Matt Bryson of Avian Securities, John Rydning and Jeff Janukowicz of IDC, Jim Handy of Objective Analysis and Surgis Mushell from Gartner.
Bryson suggested that hard disk drives are going to be challenged by a three emerging threats. SSD's are mostly limited by fab capacity, tablets don't have space for a hard drive, and Apple TV and other OTT services depend on storage in the cloud, eliminating a requirement for DVR's. In 2008, smart phones burst upon the market. Tablets look like they will ramp at about the same rate with total shipments projected to be 50 to 60 million units this year.
Notebooks and other small form factor computers have very stringent size and price constraints. In addition, the small form factor devices must have a battery life exceeding six hours, essentially eliminating hard drives as a potential storage medium. Another factor putting pressure on hard drives is the success of the iPad which is a combination of hardware, software, and a digital download source. The Amazon Kindle is issuing similar success. These ecosystems are showing realistic consumer pricing expectations and demonstrate that a digital download is much less expensive than some hard medium. As an example, a DVD costs over $10 while renting it will cost about five, whereas a download through Red Box costs $0.99.
Rydning projected 200 million notebook PCs will be sold this year. About 11% of a PC's costs go for storage which include optical and HDD. For solid-state drives to encroach upon this market they must move down from 15 times the cost per gigabyte to less than 10 times the cost per gigabyte compared to hard disk drives. This pricing is expected to occur by 2014. Another driver in the space is the average price of a notebook is dropping and now averages between $400 and $450.
An emerging trend is a combination of SSD and HDD. In a dual drive set up, an HDD is paired with a small SSD to provide a boost in performance and reduction in power consumption at an incremental cost of about $50. An alternative is a hybrid drive which integrates an HDD with an SSD. As a result, standard HDDs will lose market share and total volume to hybrid storage devices.
Janukowicz looked at storage in the new world of computing. In the post-PC era, the world is seeing changes in where storage fits. PCs are moving to smaller form factors and also being displaced by laptop computers. At the same time, smart phones are leading a movement towards connected portable devices that combine indications and content creation. Between 15 and 20 percent of connected portable devices are small form factor computers like tablets or netbooks. All of these devices have requirements for some form of external storage which may be the cloud.
The drivers for storage include price points, power consumption, robustness, and of course, capacity. NAND flash is ubiquitous in portable connected devices and all these markets, including smart phones portable PCs, media tablets, it expects to see greater than 100 percent compound annual growth rates.
Handy stated memory has two constants; prices always go down and technology changes. The pressure to reduce prices causes manufacturers to always look at displacing mechanical components. The reason they continue to reduce HDD products is that they use products of a much larger capacity than other mechanical single function products. By combining an HDD with an SSD, they can improve functionality and performance without adversely affecting costs.
Manufacturers are continually developing new processes and technologies and new memory types in an attempt to stay on the declining cost per gigabyte per. Historically storage costs drop about 30% per year per gigabyte and are now about $.50 per gigabyte. New technologies however cause big changes and are expensive if one wishes to stay on the trendline. At the same time, however, HDD products are still less than 1/10 the cost of an SSD.
Mushell defined one of the major changes as the cloud and the introduction of functions as a service. Both enterprise and consumers store their data on the cloud, and these clouds can be private or public. One driver in cloud storage is the increased use of NAND flash in the data center to increase the capacity and performance of the storage array. One challenge in cloud storage is security, so users need encryption, filters, and ways to find and organize data stored in virtual locations. Users are looking to split the storage between local and cloud and the costs of connectivity determined the percentage split.