HDD, flash to co-exist in modern datacenters: B.S. Teh, Seagate

We have a definite blueprint for both HDD and SSD, backed by robust R&D and a well-entrenched partner ecosystem, says B.S. Teh, SVP – global sales at Seagate.

Data is growing exponentially across the enterprise and consumer segment. A recent Seagate and IDC whitepaper ‘Data Age 2025: The Evolution of Data to Life-Critical’, highlights the form factors of data of the future. IDG India spoke to B.S. Teh, senior VP of global sales and sales operations of Seagate on the growing storage trends, market dynamics and the company’s roadmap. 

Here are the edited excerpts. 

What technology trends and business climate will drive growth for the storage industry?

One of the big challenges that remains for companies of all sizes is the fact that storage is growing in terms of consuming, generating, processing, and storing of data. That was one of the key drivers of data global sphere survey, and are some key trends that we anticipated, which amplified that reality.


“One of the big challenges that remains for companies of all sizes is the fact that the storage is growing in terms of consuming, generating, processing, and storing of data.”

B.S. The

SVP, Global Sales and Sales Operations, Seagate

According to the survey results, about 60 percent of data will be generated by enterprise by 2025, compared to 50 percent generated by consumers today. Technologies like internet of things (IoT) and big data are generating most data, which is not a surprise. For the last few years, the bulk of consumption and generation of content has been user generated content. In 2015, less than 30 percent of data was created by the enterprise, while in 2025 this figure will be nearly 60 percent. A lot more data generated now is considered sensitive, critical and hyper critical.

From technology perspective, we anticipate the evolution of compute platform from main frame platform five decades ago to PC compute platform, and currently is more of cloud and mobility. The biggest trend is the evolution of the fourth platform which is the emergence of edge devices. There is end point, edge and core.

From app perspective, there are limitless opportunities around what the edge device could look like in the future. It could be as simple as a surveillance ecosystem like network storage equipment in building while video capture transmission could be into the cloud. Another example is autonomous vehicles. As we move forward, there would be new edge devices, and the challenge is leveraging those opportunities as the data generated and stored in the edge devices continues to grow more than before.

What are the typical pain points encountered by enterprises with their IT infrastructure with respect to storage and data management?

The two biggest headaches for CIOs globally are security and storage. In storage management, it is about keeping the data on premise or off-premise, move 100 percent to cloud, opt for hybrid, select the right model and mix, and then there is accessibility, security, bandwidth and of course budget plays a big role. It is first about how you manage data and secondly allocating the right budget for it.

Without a doubt, things are moving towards the cloud. An overwhelming majority of CIOs admit that they will put more data on the cloud with a mix of critical and non-critical as per their business needs. We believe hybrid model will exist for some time as cloud will gain momentum. On-premise equipment will still hold a large piece of the market as many CIOs are still not comfortable in putting 100 percent of company data on cloud.

We don’t directly participate in the GTMs of cloud providers like AWS as they have their own GTMs. We may do some promotions like Amazon Duet Drive that entitled the drive buyer of ‘drive a free cloud storage on Amazon’. Our collaboration with the cloud providers is more in terms of providing them with the right storage technology.

How much data can be stored efficiently and mined intelligently by companies for their business growth? What about the security of the data?

Theoretically, one can store 100 percent of data generated but the cost will be astronomical. One needs to strike a right balance between data types, which are critical to store. Our role lies in providing the right storage management systems to support the varied requirement of the market.

Global data sphere in 2025

·         20 percent of the data created will have the potential to be critical.


·         Number of connected users expected to be 75 percent of the world’s population.


·         25 percent of data created will be real-time with IoT making up 95 percent of it.


·         20 percent of data created will be useful for analytics if tagged.


·         90 percent of data created would need security, but less than 50 percent will be secured.


Source: Data Age 2025: The Evolution of Data to Life-Critical

Security is an incredibly important component of modern IT infra. We do not participate in the security policy part as that’s individual to each company as overall security posture. We have encrypted drives wherein the data cannot be retrieved without the encryption key. It is far more robust with security on the hardware level and not at host of software level, which is often breached. 

In the supply chain, people are concerned about storage devices due to penetration of malware. We have secure supply chain processes mapped out, which give confidence to customers. If someone tries to access the drive without authorization, our technology has capabilities wherein the drive immediately destroys the data it holds. That enhances the security on drive level and datacenter owners have more peace of mind.

How has Seagate changed its strategy over the years from consumer centric to being enterprise centric? Have you revamped the enterprise portfolio?

We have always been known to be an enterprise player. We have been a leading hard disk drive (HDD) provider in the enterprise segment. The difference is that the percentage of enterprise within the hard drive business is a lot smaller, and the overwhelming majority of drives we build and sell are more into consumer space.

HDD is synonymous with PC marker. One of the biggest growths in hard drive market was alongside the growth of PCs. We have been big vendors in the enterprise space for many years, especially in HDD space but it is not a big part of entire IT infra, in terms of overall IT budgets.

This is fairly outlined in the IDC whitepaper that a significant portion of hard drive storage will be in enterprise space in the future. PCs used to be 60 percent of industry revenues for HDD market, which is now less than 40 percent. We fully expect Exabyte shipments to enterprise business to be over 50 percent of overall Exabyte shipments in the market.

As the enterprise storage market is becoming more important, we have to put focus on the orientation of our products in enterprise segment. Because of cloud, it is all about as much capacity per drive we can build and that’s our big focus. We are also focusing on increasing aerial density to introduce higher capacity drives into the market.

Do you think the PC market is dead? And do you envision 2017 to be the year of flash?

PC market is not dead for sure though it will not regain its hay days. In fact, it has been fairly positive in 2016 though more flattish. The PC market is now in steady state mode after three to four years of decline in shipments. But at a personal level, there is so much an individual can do with a PC and it will continue to be the compute device for many users.

Teh's top 5 trends

·               Cloud


·               Edge Devices


·               Security


·               Big Data


·               Surveillance

Flash for enterprise in SSD has been very high. From Exabyte perspective or revenue perspective in the phenomenal growth of SSD, more than 80 percent of Exabyte is still stored on HDD. By 2025, as per Seagate IDC report, the emergence of enterprise apps will see over 80 percent of data stored on HDD. The market is growing for enterprise as SSD is outpacing HDD on a larger installed base, but the two will co-exist and complement each other. It comes down to cost, performance and capacity, if cost is not the sole issue. There is not enough capacity for NAND flash to physically replace HDD in entirety.

What’s your USP as there is huge market consolidation of HDD players with Western Digital buying SanDisk, Seagate buying LaCie, etc?

We are the pure play hard drive company and are committed to the HDD business. If you look at the competitive landscape, Toshiba and WD are tied more into NAND storage. We are pure play HDD which is the great value proposition which will sink our investments with quick time to market leading edge effectively.

The consolidation is a natural evolution in each burgeoning market. There can be many entrants over time, but eventually every market is narrowed down to top 3 players dominating at least 80 percent of the market. Consolidation is more positive for consumers as there are continued investments from the vendors. The fragmented market often leads to less R&D and not much innovation in highly dynamic storage market for HDD and SSD.