Look to the visible Horizon and witness the future of HDD vs SSD

Disk drive capacity shipped and NVMe SSD sales will both boom over the next few years because more data needs to be stored and accessed faster when processed.

So says Stephen Buckler, chief operating officer at Horizon Technology, a multinational IT asset disposal company.

Stephen Buckler, Horizon COO

He sent us his HDD vs SSD market brief and we are republishing extracts with permission. Buckler sees enterprise HDD sales in 2019-2020 and beyond will remain robust for capacity drive storage but customers will turn increasingly to SSDs for performance data storage requirements.

In the consumer segment SSD adoption for local storage will pick up. Users are increasingly using the public cloud for capacity data and SSDs are getting less expensive relative to HDDs for local performance data,  Buckler says.

In particular, he notes:

  • Tom Coughlin, writing for Forbes in December, forecast HDD shipments to grow from 869 exabytes for 2018 to 2.6 zettabytes by 2023.
  • NVMe and NVMe-oF dramatically increase the performance and usefulness of SSD, while the price erosion in 2018 makes SSD much more accessible…NVMe-based SSD sales eclipsed SATA/SAS based sales in 2018.
  • With supply continuing to outpace demand and the roll-out of 96 layer and quad cell NAND, we expect to see continued SSD price erosion into 2020. Combined with increasing appetite for low latency storage driven by AI, MI and IoT applications, SSD will cut further into enterprise HDD sales.
  • Looking into Q1 2019, we see a hangover from Q4, with manufacturers working down supply from the previous quarter, having reportedly built 14 to 15 million nearline drives against a demand of 12 million. The hyperscaler market is on pause, and absent a visible catalyst to jumpstart sales we do not see that correcting itself until the third quarter of 2019.
  • WDC, in its recent earnings call, announced it will ship a 15TB energy-assisted drive later in the year.
  • Pricing will remain soft regardless. Although we may see exabytes growing, we feel there will be downward pricing as manufacturers work off excess stocks from Q4 and the market digests its last build cycle.
  • On the consumer side, the most significant change is the cloud. With more and consumers utilising SaaS services and opting to share and store files in the cloud, the storage performance value equation has radically changed. Size is less important than performance, since consumers only require a limited amount of personal storage, with most interactions now stored in the cloud.
  • No longer is it an apple-to-apples comparison when comparing HDD to SSD. Since end users no longer need a lot of storage, HDD’s primary cost advantage has been marginalised.
  • We are seeing over 50 per cent of notebooks shipping with SSD. Further price drops only make SSD that much more attractive. Both WDC and Seagate see the writing on the wall, with WDC limiting the roll-out of new generations and Seagate pivoting away from sub 1TB capacities.
  • Looking at the near term, it is a question whether Windows 10 upgrades will offer enough of a tailwind to offset the seasonal slowdown after the holiday build. Surveillance, a sector requiring low cost storage that is optimised to hard drives, remains an active spot for HDD in the client space.

Buckler’s snapshot view confirms the main disk and flash storage media trends. Disk, either on-premises or in the cloud, is the capacity-focused storage choice du jour with flash the favourite for fast access data.