Specialized Hard Drives: Worth the Effort?

Lately, there has been a lot of buzz in the enterprise storage arena about whether so-called “enterprise drives” are really any better than plain-Jane hard drives in Enterprise applications. This came to a head with the controversial findings of Google and CMU, but it’s been simmering under the covers everywhere from TiVo communities to gamers. I’ve normally been loathe to focus on a product so mundane as a hard disk unit in this blog, but I find that their functionality ripples up to the highest levels of strategic buying.

So what makes a great hard disk drive? It turns out that the major manufacturers have a lot of ideas, segmenting and specializing their product lines faster than anyone can keep up with it. I realized that I really knew very little about these important components and set out to learn more.

So all next week, I’m going to highlight each segment of the hard disk industry, discussing the various models of drives offered and the reality of their specialization.

I’ll be looking at drives from the following manufacturers:

  • Excelstor – An assembler from China
  • Fujitsu – A major player in the laptop/mobile and enterprise drive market
  • Hitachi – Purchased IBM’s disk drive operations and a major enterprise maker with products in nearly every market niche
  • Samsung – Quietly gaining ground in the desktop and laptop/mobile space
  • Seagate – The other full-line player in the market, especially after the purchase of Maxtor
  • Toshiba – The big dog in laptop and ultraportable drives
  • Western Digital – The consumer disk titan is starting to move into the server/enterprise territory

And I’ll be covering the following market segments:

  • Desktop
  • Server/Enterprise
  • Laptop/Mobile
  • DVR/Surveillance
  • Ultraportable
  • Automotive/Industrial

At the end, I’ll sum up my findings and opinions on this amazingly diverse market. Note that, while I focus on enterprise data storage as a professional consultant, I’m no disk drive market insider. I’m researching and learning, and I value input from others, especially on this topic!