Plan now for serious hard drive shortages

If you haven’t noticed yet, there will be a serious issue in the availability of hard drives. This is because of the major flooding that has occurred in Thailand. While this natural disaster is incredibly unfortunate for the people of Thailand, we also will see the supply chain impacted significantly for hard drives and other sub-components. Some ship dates at one of the largest server and storage brands in the US now list estimated ship dates after March of 2012.

In terms of news, one report puts production offline for the rest of 2011 and a statement from Seagate confirms that supplies will be short of expected demand.

Sourcing drives may become attractive to NETGEAR customers, as the ReadyNAS series of disk product have diskless options that allow the customer to source drives on their own if they choose and can purchase.

ioSafe, makers of ruggedized storage devices, had similar commentary. Robb Moore, CEO of ioSafe confirmed that this will have a widespread ripple effect in the industry. Moore further went on to say that some external hard drive manufacturers will have to exit the market entirely. Storage is a widespread market of systems with high margins as well as low-end solutions with rock-bottom margins; yet, they may use the same commodity disks underneath it all. Moore goes on to predict that higher-end (which command higher sales margins) systems will likely be less impacted by the supply shortage compared to external drive systems. Like NETGEAR, ioSafe has an inventory to cover the immediate future for their storage products.

So what can can you do?  Well, while people are split, it’s pretty clear that a large stash of drives to satisfy months and months of disk consumption isn’t practical. One or two miscellaneous parts here and there have a much more clear case. This is a great time to reduce our storage consumption. This can be via deleting old data, moving it to a storage cloud, leveraging duplication, virtualizing, consolidating resources or simply revisiting retention policies.

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