What’s Going Tomorrow for WD?Cautious roadmap
By Jean-Jacques Maleval on 2013.06.11
By Corentin Béchade, redactor, StorageNewsletter.com
(Report from Istanbul, Turkey)
During WD Executive Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, Western Digital unveiled
its lastest enhancements in HDD and its plans for the
future of the company on June 4 at the Meridien Hotel, located around
9km of Taksim Square where protests about the government were taking
The Ultra-Slim WD is an HDD only 5mm thick for 500GB. Following this product, the big announcement
during the summit was the new 7mm model at 1TB. These two disks are
major devices for the company and they embody some of the new focuses
and diversification of the firm's portfolio.
While these drives are aimed for the 'thin and light' market, the focus
on mobility is not the only area where the company is developing.
Through several acquisitions, WD has developed a portfolio broader than
simple HDDs. The acquisition of Arkeia showed that the company is also
dedicated to software for backup and subsystems.
The Hitachi acquisition on the other hand could bring some valuable assets in R&D and hardware but the plans to make "one great company with two,"
according to Rich Rutledge, SVP and GM, datacenter storage, is still
held back by China's regulation body MOFCOM (for how long?), even though
the company claims that the merger creates a "pro-competitive situation"
and hopes to allow the firm to stop running HGST as it is now, an
independent unit. Already WD with HGST is
higher than Seagate in revenue, profitability and cash if you look at
their most recent fiscal quarter.
Storage trends such as the cloud or SSDs will generate new products and
tactics, estimates WD. For Rutledge it is impossible to predict exactly
what the future of storage will be like. "All of us have a risky future but WD is dedicated to storage and storage is still dominated by HDDs."
Concerning the rising trend of cloud storage, the company is confident
in its ability to provision cloud service providers with high capacity
HDDs to keep its mark on the storage industry and still maintain
About SSDs, SanDisk is providing flash chips for WD. But Rutledge
believes that, "there is a growing market for both HDDs and SSDs," even
after the Thailand flood and a lower offering that led to
increased prices of disk drives. He emphasizes more on hybrid solution
like SSHD combining robustness, capacity and speed, and sees continuing
success of HDD in the future. Studies showed by WD proved that, by 2020,
75% of bits will be stored in HDDs (mostly in datacenter).
WD is now focusing on two products: 1/ Thin and fast SSHD, tiny HDDs for mobility and 2/ HDD for data centers.
To increase disk drive capacities, it plans to release it's first
Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR) products in the first quarter of 2014.
Its labs are still working on helium HDDs - separately from HGST -, a
product under testing for over three years, according to Bill Cain, WD's