2020 Trends for the Evolving Data Center, Part 1

Western Digital executives weigh in on top data center trends for the coming year in this first of a 2-part series.

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There’s no question that we will continue to experience massive data growth in 2020. The question for data center architects is how to manage this unprecedented influx of data and future-proof enterprise infrastructures for the next decade’s Zettabyte Age. From emerging architectures to adoption of composable disaggregated storage to greater TCO value, Western Digital executives weigh in on top data center trends for 2020 in this first of a 2-part series.

  • Trend #1: In 2020, machine-generated data will begin to surpass human data.

In 2020, non-mobile edge applications – from medical, automotive, industry, smart cities, airports, and more – will continue growing rapidly.  Due to this increase in connected devices driven by 5G and IoT/IIoT, machine-generated data will begin to surpass human-generated data as the fastest-growing data source. IIoT and natural streaming data (video, AI/ML datasets, etc.) will contribute to the largest share of growth, driving the need for new at-scale, TCO-optimized data center architectures to help IT and business leaders efficiently store, manage, and monetize the value of their data.

- Siva Sivaram, Western Digital's President of Technology & Strategy

  • Trend #2: In 2020, new data center architectures will emerge to manage the growing volume and variety of data.

In the Zettabyte-scale Age, data infrastructure needs to be re-architected to address the growing scale and complexity of workloads, applications, and AI/IoT datasets. These constructs will involve multiple tiers of workload-optimized storage as well as new approaches to system software. Zoned Storage, an open-source initiative, will help enable customers to take advantage of zone block management across both SMR HDDs and ZNS SSDs for sequentially-written, read-centric workloads. In 2020, we’ll see a substantial amount of application and storage software investment in Zoned Storage to help drive more efficient storage tiers as data centers are redefined in the Zettabyte-scale Age.

- Phil Bullinger, SVP and GM, Western Digital’s Data Center Business Unit

  • Trend #3: In 2020, tiering of data leveraging device, media, and fabric innovation, will expand, not contract.

There will continue to be strong exabyte growth in read-centric applications in the data center, from AI, machine learning, and big data analytics to a variety of business intelligence and accessible archive workloads. These at-scale use cases are driving a diverse set of performance, capacity, and cost-efficiency demands on storage tiers, as enterprises deliver increasingly differentiated services on their data infrastructure. To meet these demands, data center architecture will continue advancing toward a model where data storage solutions will be consistently provisioned and accessed over fabrics, with the underlying storage platforms and devices delivering to a variety of SLA’s, aligned with specific application needs. And while we certainly expect to expand the deployment of TLC and QLC Flash in these at-scale, high-growth workloads for higher-performance use cases, the relentless demand for exabytes of cost-effective, scalable storage will continue to drive strong growth in capacity enterprise HDD. 

- Phil Bullinger, SVP and GM, Western Digital’s Data Center Business Unit

  • Trend #4: In 2020 and beyond, HDDs will continue to thrive in the data center.

While many have predicted the demise of HDDs for years, there’s simply no substitute for capacity-enterprise HDDs, which consistently meet growing data demands and deliver TCO value at scale for hyperscale data centers. Today, industry analyst firm IDC estimates that nearly 2/3 of the world’s installed storage capacity consists of HDDs. IDC also expects that by 2023, 103 ZB will be created per year with 12 ZB stored - approximately 60% of the stored data will be at the core/edge data center. Driven by this insatiable growth of data – by humans and machines – this mainstay technology will see new data placement technologies, higher areal densities, mechanical innovation, intelligent data storage, and new materials innovations that will enable new capacity points and TCO at scale for the foreseeable future.- Yusuf Jamal, SVP of Western Digital’s Devices and Platforms

  • Trend #4: In 2020, fabrics and composable will form a symbiotic relationship.

Ethernet fabrics are becoming the “Universal Backplane” of the data center, unifying how storage is shared, composed, and managed at scale to meet the demands of increasingly varied applications and workloads. In 2020, we’ll see increasing adoption of composable, disaggregated storage solutions that efficiently scale over Ethernet fabrics and deliver the full performance potential of NVMe™ devices to diverse data center applications. Composable storage will significantly increase the agility and flexibility in how enterprises provision and optimize their data infrastructure to meet dynamic application requirements- Phil Bullinger, SVP and GM, Western Digital’s Data Center Business Unit

  • Trend #5: In 2020, across the globe, the number of local and regional data centers will grow.

Cloud adoption is not slowing; however, two factors are driving the growth of localized data centers. The first is data compliance. As multiple countries seek to have or have already passed data localization laws, organizations will need to keep their data closer to understand and mitigate potential security and privacy risks associated with data compliance. The second is cloud repatriation. In essence, larger enterprises are looking to own their data and rent the cloud for better costs and controls, including security, latency, and data access. These larger enterprises will use the cloud more selectively for specific burst applications, use cases, and projects.

Steve Phillpott, CIO, Western Digital

In the second part of this 2-part series on the Evolving Data Center, Western Digital executives will share additional thoughts on another big trend impacting IT organizations: AI.

Forward-Looking Statements:

This article may contain forward-looking statements, including statements relating to expectations for Western Digital’s products, the market for these products, and capabilities of these products. These forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements, including development challenges or delays; supply chain and logistics issues; changes in demand; global economic conditions; competitor actions; and other risks and uncertainties listed in Western Digital Corporation’s most recent quarterly and annual reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, to which your attention is directed. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements and we undertake no obligation to update these forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances.

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