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HGST

HGST logoHGST, established in 2003 and formerly known as Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (before becoming a Western Digital owned company) develops advanced hard disk drives, enterprise-class solid state drives, innovative external storage solutions and services used to store, preserve and manage the world's most valued data.

Founded by the pioneers of hard drives, HGST provides high-value storage for a broad range of market segments. For more information, please visit the company's website at http://www.hgst.com.

See also:- HGST links & mentions on StorageSearch.com, HGST's SSD page
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HGST was ranked #7 - in the Q4 2015 edition of the the Top SSD Companies which is researched and published by StorageSearch.com.

Will its acquisition of the #1 ranked SSD company - SanDisk - change the market? See what I said in the sidebar article (which waswritten at the time of the announcement in October 2015).

One lesson we've learned from analyzing all the SSD acquisitions from 2000 to 2016 - is that acquisitions of this scale take time to prepare and consolidate - but the market doesn't hold its breath and wait to see what comes out the other end. The uncertainty process assists competitors and new startups. The big ideas now prevailing in the SSD market are not the same as they were when this acquisition was first mooted. What are they? Take a look at these articles below.


who's who in SSD? - HGST

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - StorageSearch.com - September 29, 2015

HGST was ranked #4 - in the Q2 2015 edition of the the Top SSD Companies.

It was in this same quarter that StorageSearch.com published one of the most popular articles in recent years - which discussed the pressures, likely roadmap and consequences of future market consolidation in the enterprise SSD systems market.

Is HGST a contender for supplying standard box platforms viable with this model? Maybe. It depends how HGST recycles Skyera's IP (which accounted for over 1/3 of the interest in HGST's SSD IP in Q2 2015) and it will also depend on the market reaction and competitive landscape in the enterprise when that happens.

HGST has a preference for large controller SSD architecture. All 3 of its most recently acquired SSD companies - which operate in the enterprise market - had their own unique large controller architectures - which faciltate better efficiency, reliability and spike free performance than small controllers (when the small controllers are used in an array context without the benefit of 3rd generation multi-level management firmware).

That's a good thing - which provides a competitive edge - if you can maintain investment in updating the proprietary IP. But as we've seen with some other vendors - if the core controllers aren't updated with new memory paradigms (a case in point being the delay in adopting new memory by Fusion-io in the period leading up to its acquisition by SanDisk) then within a year to 18 months the proprietary arrays begin to look expensive compared to commodity SSDs.
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earlier comments:- July 28, 2014 - from the Top SSD Companies in Q2 2014.

In this quarter it was still evident that the various SSD acquisitions which HGST had made recently - were not integrated into a single coherent customer facing view of enterprise SSD offerings on HGST's web site.

But that also made it easier for external analysts to see that the majority of interest in HGST's SSD product line in this period stemmed from the interfaces and form factors it had acquired from STEC - which generated more than 2x the search activity as the PCIe SSD product line it had acquired from Virident.

It's unlikely that we will get such clarity in future quarters - until some future time when HGST starts to disclose SSD revenue by form factor (which may not happen).
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Who's who in SSD? - by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - September 2013

By the time HGST eventually emerged through the nearly year long delay of HDD-related market regulatory compliance hurdles in March 2012 (which had been triggered by WD agreeing to acquire it from Hitachi) HGST's already weak and late to market SAS SSD product line was looking even more tired and unattractive in comparison to leading competitors in the enterprise SSD race than it already had done when this storage drive acquisition marathon began.

One confirmatory indication of this being that (unlike WD itself) HGST had never appeared in the Top SSD Companies List throughout the 6 year period from 2007 upto the middle of 2013. (Later:- HGST's 1st appearance in the Top SSD Companies List occured after this comment - based on metrics in the 3rd quarter of 2013 - at #18.)

Recently, however, the potential market reach of of HGST's enterprise SSD IP assets has been greatly augmented by a series of acquisitions among which are the following companies. If successful - the cumulative impact of HGST's reprocessing of all the enterprise SSD IP which will soon be at its disposal - could fundamentally change the way that WD is regarded within the SSD market of the future - as "pre-HGST" and "post-HGST" eras.
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selected HGST milestones - from SSD Market History.

In November 2010 - Hitachi said it was sampling 3.5" FC SSDs and 2.5" SAS SSDs with upto 400GB SLC capacity and 535MB/s read and 500MB/s write throughput (6Gb/s SAS) 46,000 / 13,000 R/W IOPS.

In March 2011 - WD announced it will acquire Hitachi GST for approximately $4.3 billion. Although the primary motive is hard drives - the companies said they would put more resources into SSDs too.

In March 2012 - WD completed its acquisition of HGST - which will retain its brand identity and operate as a wholly owned subsidiary.

Also in this month - HGST announced that its 2.5" SAS SLC SSD product - the Ultrastar SSD400S - is now shipping in EMC's VNX iSCSI arrays.

In June 2013 - WD announced that it had agreed to acquire Stec for approximately $340 million. Stec will be absorbed into HGST.

In July 2013 - WD announced it had acquired VeloBit (an SSD software company operating in the SSD auto-caching market).

In September 2013 - WD's enterprise SSD subsidiary - HGST announced it would acquire Virident Systems for approximately $685 million in cash.

In December 2014 - Western Digital acquired Skyera (which at that time was offering the highest capacity SSD racks based on its own efficient controller architecture and software).

In October 2015 - Western Digital agreed to acquire SanDisk for $19 billion.
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how much flash needed to replace all enterprise HDDs?
meet Ken and the enterprise SSD software event horizon
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DWPD (Diskful Writes Per Day) for 5 years - has become an established part of SSD jargon in the writings of enterprise SSD makers in recent years.
DWPD numbers for industry leading enterprise SSDs

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"SSD is going down! - We're going down!"
If you've ever watched the movie - Black Hawk Down - there's a memorable scene in which...
Surviving SSD sudden power loss

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SanDisk will be a WDC company Thursday
Editor:- May 10, 2016 - SanDisk today announced that the Ministry of Commerce of China has approved the acquisition of SanDisk by Western Digital. All necessary regulatory approvals for the acquisition have now been received and the transaction is expected to close on Thursday, May 12, 2016.
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"The need for reviving the SSD bookmarks series concept after a 5 year gap is because while we're all busily dodging tornadoes in Kansas to get to a consolidated market there's a lot of dust making it harder than ever to see what's what."

Zsolt Kerekes, editor - StorageSearch.com
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SanDisk hops into WDC's flash shopping basket
Editor:- October 22, 2015 - Following weeks of speculation and leaks came the confirmation yesterday that Western Digital has indeed agreed to acquire SanDisk in a deal valued at $19 billion.

If all goes as planned the transaction is expected to close in the 3rd calendar quarter of 2016.

Editor's comments:- From an SSD server storage competitive landscape perspective I think this is more significant than the EMC - Dell deal. Because it will impact the design, availability, competitive market health and future direction of many classic SSD product types in a far reaching way which could only be matched if Dell were to acquire Intel.

Time will play a big factor too.

Looking back at past acquisitions by WDC you shouldn't expect anything to come out the other end of the digester before the end of 2017.

And in that time - 2 years hence - many things in the SSD market will be different.

Some of SanDisk's best known enterprise SSD product lines (PCIe, SAS and SATA cloud) are already looking as if they were designed for a different movie generation.

(SanDisk's got a perfect Bogart lookalike for a remake of Casablanca, but webscale casting is hooked on an idea more like Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones.)

In PCIe server sockets SanDisk has lagged behind the curve in NVMe, while in 2.5" storage arrays - new adaptive intelligence flow symmetry - which is emerging in many different forms - means that in the extreme case of cloud deployments - a single SSD with customized firmware - can replace 2 old style SATA SSDs.

On the other hand - SanDisk has more than amply demonstrated its willingness and capability to integrate flash memory in the enterprise outside traditional SSD comfort zones:- in server based DIMMs and analytics scale big data memory.

Those market experiments haven't generated much revenue yet but are the early steps on a learning curve which all memory makers will have to explore. The combination of that software capability and access to consumer scale, low cost flash will probably be more use to WDC than any single product line.

What happens in the meantime?

As we've seen before in such long drawn out acquisitions - it's inevitable that some SanDisk product developments will slow down and wither on the vine.

On the other hand - there will also be pressure to accelerate new product introductions too. You could say - it will be business as usual - but without so many distractions coming from the investor angle.

Looking ahead to a post WDC SanDisk...

WDC has a track record of swiftly EOLing perfectly adequate SSD products which came bundled in the shopping basket but didn't have high volumes and market scale.

This is a story which you'll be reading about for a long time to come.
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HGST samples 3TB 2.5" PCIe SSD
news image - 2.5 inch NVMe SSD - click for infoEditor:- March 11, 2015 - HGST is sampling a new range of SSDs for the 2.5" PCIe SSD market.

The 2.5" NVMe Ultrastar SN100 (pdf) has upto 3.2TB capacity.
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Western Digital acquires Skyera
Editor:- December 15, 2014 - Western Digital and HGST today announced the acquisition of Skyera.

Editor's comments:- This is a momentous acquisition for the enterprise SSD market.

I think the context in which to view this is as the embodiment of a new wisdom in the industry - that to succeed in the enterprise SSD market today - and to achieve the ultimate efficiencies at the manufacturing level - vendors have to think like systems companies.

And some of the biggest systems opportunities for efficient vendors nowadays - in which efficiencies translate into business opportunities are in hyperscale systems and internet infrastructure.

I've been discussing these trends in the past 18 months or so in these articles - which I think are relevant to today's acquisition announcement.
  • new directions in rackmount SSDs (May 24, 2013) - "One of the most potentially rewarding market challenges which SSD companies are grappling with right now is - how to make enterprise solid state storage attractive to users who aren't worried about their hard drive performance and don't even think they need SSDs... New SSD thinking inside the box will lead to better enterprise flash arrays."
  • meet Ken - and the enterprise SSD software event horizon (October 8, 2013) - "Why it's so easy to fall into a trap when answering these questions... How big will the SSD market will be when SSDs replace hard drives? When will it happen? and What will be the revenue of the SSD market at that time?"
  • Scary Skyera? (October 22, 2013) - "You may decide that my ratios (of enterprise SSD capacity needed to replace hard drives) are too timid - I said to Skyera's founder - if so - scare us!"
  • Seagate to acquire LSI's flash business (May 29, 2014 ) - "...even if Seagate focused only on the high volume potential of existing cloud infrastructure customers and big web entities (like Google and Baidu) - who need value based enterprise SSDs - but who are perfectly capable of designing their own software and APIs and firmware tweaks - then Seagate could... establish it as one of (several) leaders in the utility SSD segment of the cloud."
  • Skyera's new skyHawk FS (October 29, 2014) - "Re the mobile data center, new meanings to unified storage and joining storage gentlemen's clubs..."
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HGST announces 2nd generation clustering software for FlashMAX PCIe SSDs
Editor:- September 9, 2014 - HGST today announced a new improved version of the high availability clustering capability previously available in the PCIe SSD product line acquired last year from Virident.

HGST's Virident Space allows clustering of up to 128 servers and 16 PCIe storage devices to deliver one or more shared volumes of high performance flash storage with a total usable capacity of more than 38TB.

HGST says its Virident HA provides a "high-throughput, low-latency synchronous replication across servers for data residing on FlashMAX PCIe devices. If the primary server fails, the secondary server can automatically start a standby copy of your application using the secondary replica of the data."

For more details see - HGST Virident Software 2.0 (pdf)

Editor's comments:- This capability had already been demonstrated last year - and ESG reported on the technology in January 2014.

But at that time - the clustering product called vShare - was restricted to a small number of servers - and the data access fabric was restricted to Infiniband only.

With the rev 2.0 software - the number of connected devices has increased - and users also have the lower cost option of using Ethernet as an alternative supported fabric.

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