This morning we shared exciting news about the rapid growth and market momentum of our Data Center Systems (DCS) business. The growth of DCS is a key part of Western Digital’s ongoing evolution as a leading enabler of data infrastructure, building on a decades-long history of game-changing innovation and technical achievement that has enabled data to be captured, preserved, accessed, and transformed at increasing scale, durability, and performance.
My 30+ year career has been focused on technologies, products and customer relationships aimed at the persistent storage of data. Through the years, I’ve had the privilege of working with great people and teams as we relentlessly tackled new and evolving challenges through many product cycles. But, as I consider this long arc of storage evolution, I believe we’re now in the most interesting and exciting times for data infrastructure innovation, and the impact it has on our lives. Just consider how data, in a very short period of time, has transformed from being merely a byproduct of digital life to becoming the very engine of the global economy. We live in a world where our relationships, our jobs, our health, and our safety increasingly depend on data. And the pace of this transformation is accelerating.
We all know that data continues to grow at a dramatic rate and it has become an integral part of our lives – changing the way we learn, redefining the way we transact business, and altering how we experience the world around us. New technologies and products are required to effectively utilize the data and extract every bit of value from it. At Western Digital, I saw an opportunity to work with a great team of people, innovate in a broad array of technologies from silicon to systems, and help customers extract the value of data in ways that no other company is able to do. We have built the capabilities necessary to design, architect, and deploy data-centric infrastructures for businesses of all types and enable them to extend the reach of their data from the Core to the Edge and all points in between.
As you look beyond the highlights of our momentum to understand who we are, I wanted to share four key aspects about Western Digital and our Data Center Systems business:
1. The Only Vendor with Silicon to Systems Vertical Engineering
Western Digital has made several bold strategic moves acquiring technologies to help us build what is arguably the broadest data infrastructure portfolio of any company. We are now in a unique position where we engineer and innovate across the entire technology stack – from silicon, to platter, to devices, storage servers and all the way up to cloud-scale and all-flash systems complete with advanced data services and application integration. The ability to start at the core fundamental technology layer – manufacturing the HDD platter, the head assembly or the innovation at the flash transistor layer – and holistically innovate and engineer our technology stack is a unique position no other vendor has. The benefits for customers are very real.
One such example is how the understanding of the interaction of our hard drives with the outside world, including the transmitted interference and acoustic vibration of fans, allowed us to design precise vibration isolation into our storage platforms. This technology, called IsoVibeTM, reduces the vibration of individual drives by up to 63% compared to traditional enclosures. This is one example of many where our deep intimate knowledge of the underpinning technologies of our systems helps us deliver customers with better products and unmatched capabilities.
2. We ARE a Data Company
Data is at the heart of Western Digital. I don’t just mean that because we are a data infrastructure company. Western Digital lives and breathes the same challenges our enterprise customers face. We have undergone a transformation of our technologies to enable digital analytics and enterprise-wide insight. We harness big data analytics and fast data at the edge to make better and faster decisions in our smart manufacturing operations as well as for research and development, to ensure our competitive edge in the market.
Our own object storage and all-flash storage systems play a critical role in our enterprise data infrastructure. They enable Western Digital to manage analytics across multiple geographic locations, deliver better data protection and create a more real-time environment for security and cybersecurity event management. (Hear our CIO, Steve Phillpott, speak about some of these use cases in a recent public event.) We also understand the relationship between cloud, core, and edge workloads. Our hybrid cloud strategy has helped us leverage the extreme scale, power and agility of cloud-based HPC to constantly push the limits of physics and engineering, and we bring this know-how and expertise back to our customers.
3. An Unbiased Expert View into Data Technologies
With our portfolio encompassing both HDD and Flash technologies, devices, building blocks for software-defined storage and full-featured systems, we can offer customers an experienced, unbiased view on how to best solve a problem at scale in the data center. Customers rely on us to guide them to the optimal technology that can solve their data challenges today, and pave their journey to next generation infrastructure.
You don’t have to take my word for it. You can see some great examples in the recent Gartner Peer Insights ‘Voice of the Customer’: Solid-State Arrays report for Western Digital IntelliFlash arrays and the Gartner Peer Insights ‘Voice of the Customer’: Distributed File Systems and Object Storage.
It’s important to note that these customer relationships also include our ecosystem of partners. We don’t exist as an island. One of the things we have invested heavily in is ecosystem development with dozens of independent software vendors, and hundreds of channel partners through our award-winning Enterprise Partner Program. These relationships and partnerships, alongside the certification points of our products with the industry, are critical to giving our customers the best possible support and solution for their data infrastructure, wherever it lives.
4. We Focus on the Path of Data
In today’s world, the velocity and variety of data are driving the evolution of architecture, interconnectivity, and orchestration of infrastructure in a data center. We cannot view physical infrastructure in silos of operation. Working with customers we see the bottlenecks and the boundaries they run against, and we are passionately working on solutions that can help them unlock the potential of data in new areas.
We’re doing some incredible work with software composability, a new architectural approach that is based on open standards and uses NVMe™-over-Fabric to create flexible building blocks of storage, compute and networking resources that can dramatically improve utilization, performance, and agility in the data center. We are also are helping to free the data path for optimized processing models of big data and fast data applications with the RISC-V ISA. We are investing heavily in hardware and software technologies to accelerate innovations in flash data management, hybrid cloud capabilities, data mobility, open composability, predictive data analytics, and cloud-based management with more than 400 research and development engineers.
Phil is SVP and GM of Western Digital's Data Center Systems BU driving accelerated growth for business with block, file and object storage.