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Drive vendors Seagate, HGST in launch mode

The industry’s two hard drive vendors had a busy week with product rollouts and future-gazing.

Western Digital’s HGST division launched a flurry of products Tuesday, including 8 TB and 10 TB helium drives, nonvolatile memory express (NVMe) PCIe flash drives, and flash software. It also revealed its air-filled UltraStar hard drives will be replaced by the helium drives after the current generation.

Rival Seagate launched a raft of products Wednesday, and talked about its business strategy today at an analyst day.

Seagate’s new products include the ClusterStor 9000 Lustre-based high-performance computing system that it gained from its Xyratex acquisition; an EVault Enterprise Backup and Recovery Appliance that handles up to 100 TB of usable capacity with data reduction; Nytro XP6302 (1.75 TB usable) and XP209 (1.86 TB usable) PCIe flash cards; and 15,000 rpm and 10,000 rpm hard drives, including a 2 TB 2.5-inch drive.

While HGST is pushing hard to expand into solid-state storage, Seagate seems more interested in refining its hard drive technology for the cloud. It did buy LSI’s flash controller technology to “control NAND better than anybody else,” as Seagate president of operations and technology Dave Mosley said, but its executives seemed most excited about the cloud during analyst day.

“I think people accept that the cloud architecture will be the architecture of the future,” Seagate CEO Steve Luczo said.

Cloud storage is the thing that’s really exploding,” Mosley added.

Seagate set up a cloud systems and solutions division this week, headed by Cisco veteran Jamie Lerner. Its Kinetic open storage architecture revealed last year is also built largely for the cloud.

CFO Patrick O’Malley said cloud and flash products can bring Seagate $2 billion in revenue over the next two years, before adding the hard disk drive business “is [still] a story of growth.”

Luczo played down the emergence of flash in enterprise storage, saying nearly all of the flash in use is connected to computers (clients and servers) rather than the storage bus.

Mosley said Seagate is on track to deliver a 20 TB hard drive by 2020. That’s twice the capacity of the largest HGST rolled out this week, and 2.5-times the 8 TB drive Seagate announced last month.

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