Seagate: Why we're ready to cope with the global explosion of data

Cloud computing
  • IDC has just released its annual report, sponsored by Seagate, on how data is produced and stored globally. What are the essential takeaways in the 2018 edition?

The Digitization of the World report finds that global data is evolving in two distinct areas: where data is produced, and where it is stored. In the recent past, consumers were responsible for storing their own data but are increasingly embracing public cloud services. By 2020 more data will be stored in the cloud than on personal devices and, by 2025, almost half (49 percent) of the world’s stored data will reside in the public cloud, with enterprises driving this rapid growth. By 2025, enterprises will have overtaken consumers as the biggest data producers.

With that being the case, the report assesses how industries around the world are coping with this change with the first ever DATCON index. The index measures data-readiness from 5 (optimized) to 1 (critical), across four critical industries which make up 48 percent of the global datasphere: Finance, Manufacturing, Media & Entertainment, Healthcare.

The report found that Manufacturing and Financial Services scored the best overall at 3.3 each, representing the greatest use of edge computing in the four industries, with opportunity for blockchain, analytics and AI.

Despite its rapid growth, at 2.4, healthcare has room for improvement as well in data readiness. Survey results indicate blockchain will be important for the industry, but nearly 60 percent lack a strategy or have yet to implement any initiative. Media and Entertainment received the lowest DATCON score of 2.0, showing a sector ripe for advanced data technologies; particularly in data security and data management.

  • The global datasphere, the entire universe of data created, captured and replicated worldwide, is expected to grow to more than 175ZB by 2025. That’s up from the 163ZB in the 2017 report’s forecast for 2025, and 5x more than was produced globally in 2018. Is that trend currently accelerating? What's fuelling this exponential growth?

This shift is largely driven by the technologies that enterprises are adopting. The increasing move towards an always-on and “sensorised” world is creating and analyzing data 24/7. 

Take for example a single self-driving car, which can currently produce 3TB of data per hour. This kind of real-time data is set to become a dominant force, and by 2025 we expect 30% of the global data to be real-time. This kind of data is precisely why the healthcare sector will lead data production, outpacing streaming services, as real-time data becomes essential to medical care.  And as industries which currently lag behind on the DATCON index, such as media & entertainment, better optimize their approaches to data, it doesn’t look like this is a trend that will slow down. 

  • One chart shows the worldwide byte shipments by storage media type and one thing that immediately jumps out is how big tape is going to be. Many of us thought tape was dead. How do you explain that?  

With the annual size of the global datasphere projected to increase more than five-fold by 2025, to 175ZB, some of this growth will come from potentially surprising areas. 

Tape certainly has its advantages such as long-life storage and damage resistance which makes it appropriate for some use cases. 

The rapid growth of edge computing and the shift to public cloud datacenter providers means that business priorities are constantly shifting, and Seagate is looking at a variety of new technologies to help move the industry forward. For example, Seagate’s heat-assisted magnetic recording technology (HAMR) with multi-actuator technology promises to dramatically increase drive storage capacity while keeping drive size the same. 

These are the technologies that will become the building blocks of future technology innovation. 

  • The first 8TB hard disk drive arrived in August 2014 while the first 15TB models hit the market in October 2018. Is Seagate on target to deliver a 16TB model by end of 2018 as mentioned by Seagate's CEO in January 2017?

Seagate is committed to driving innovation and technology leadership that unlocks the possibilities of the data-driven world. 

We are already shipping HAMR units for customer integration tests and these tests confirm our products are plug-and-play, reliable, and ready to ship in pilot volume next year.  

  • The storage capacity of end devices (smartphones, laptops etc) has barely moved over the past few years. 1TB seems to be the preferred HD capacity with 256GB being the sweet spot for SSD. Given the prevalence of free, ubiquitous cloud storage, can we assume that, for end devices at least, this is the end? i.e. other than natural wastage, we cannot expect any growth in that part of the market?

Consumer devices such as smartphones and laptops have found their ‘sweet spot’ in terms of storage capacity, and certain storage volumes do tend to dominate on those devices. At the same time, we’re seeing very strong growth in other consumer electronics categories such as personal external hard drives: our consumer drives have about a 2.5TB capacity on average, which speaks to a clear and growing consumer need for higher capacity data storage solutions.

The cloud storage industry continues to expand at a rapid rate, and this is confirmed by the IDC research which predicts that by 2025 almost half (49%) of the world’s stored data could reside in public cloud environments. However, this dramatic growth is not at the expense of growth in other areas. While some areas are growing faster than others, there are no parts of the market where we see stagnation.  

Jeff Fochtman is VP of Global Marketing, Seagate Technology