5 HDD Industry Trends to Look For

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Hard disk drives (HDDs) are one of the major non-volatile memory storage devices often used in enterprise data centers and arrays. 

They are mechanical devices, read and written by floating heads, and popular solutions for offline backup. Despite the prevailing discussion on solid-state drives (SSDs) in the data storage industry, HDDs are still used prominently, and they’re still undergoing improvements. 

See below to learn about some of the top trends in the hard disk drive market:  

HDD Trends

  1. Focus on Full Disk Encryption 
  2. Leaning on Other Hardware Protection Technologies
  3. Raising Ransomware Protection
  4. Increasing Drive Capacity
  5. More Storage Arrays

Also Read: HDD Market Outlook

1. Focus on Full Disk Encryption

Self-encrypting disks (SED) and full disk encryption (FDE) are more secure methods of storage encryption than software-based encryption, which can be undone if an attacker steals credentials. 

In full disk encryption processes, the device’s CPU does not store the symmetric encryption key. 

Hardware-based encryption for disk drives is more secure and makes data harder to reach. If a hard drive is encrypted and it’s offline, attackers will not be able to read its data. 

Also Read: Top Full Disk Encryption Software Products

2. Leaning on Other Hardware Protection Technologies

Hard drives need intensive security controls to improve storage security environments, according to Doron Youngerwood, VP of marketing at Continuity Software

Data protection in general needs to strengthen defenses against data-targeted theft, such as ransomware too:  

“Existing vulnerability management solutions do not cover storage and backup,” Youngerwood said. “Many organizations are not aware of this major blind-spot.”

Enterprises need “new ways to harden the storage and backup services,” he said

Although Youngerwood acknowledged that hard drive tech advancements won’t be enough to solve all the problems related to data protection and security, there are a few that can improve security in storage environments. 

“These include hardware support for data locking (immutable drives) that can help guarantee hackers will not be able to compromise data copies,” Youngerwood said. 

He also cited “hardware support for data encryption — with better integration with key management systems” and “support for protocol encryption (SATA, Fibre Channel) — that can help further secure storage in sensitive environments.” 

The market as a whole needs new ways to protect recovery copies of data and improve storage security, he said.

3. Raising Ransomware Protection

All storage mediums need measures to protect stored data from cyber attacks, particularly ransomware, an insidious type of data theft that encrypts stolen data and requires a paid ransom to take the data back. 

Cybersecurity vendor Sophos spearheaded a 2021 survey of 5,400 businesses, and 37% reported being hit by ransomware attacks. 

“Enterprises are looking for answers to ransomware and insider threat prevention,” said Ron Gula, president at Gula Tech Adventures. “To do so, they are deploying access control data solutions, which leverage encryption, authentication, access control, and user behavior monitoring where data is stored. Normally, enterprises deploy these types of technologies at the network layer or agent layer.”

Racktop Systems, he added, has implemented access control in their Cyberstorage solution.. 

BrickStor, Racktop’s ransomware detection and prevention solution, uses both hard drives and solid-state drives in its arrays. Racktop partners with Seagate, using its self-encrypting hard drives, which can reset encryption keys and automatically lock themselves.

BrickStor also has the ability to block just one infected user or machine, allowing the rest of the system to continue performance, said Jonathan Halstuch, co-founder and CTO of Racktop. 

“We can actually detect even the data theft portion and block that user … or block the machine user that is infected with the ransomware virus,” Halstuch said. “We allow the other [non-virulent] users to keep working.”

Hard drives are one of the best offline storage solutions for protecting data at rest from ransomware: they are less expensive than SSDs, and they’re faster to access than tape.

4. Increasing Drive Capacity

Although global hard drive unit sales are decreasing, the overall storage capacity of HDDs is increasing, according to Horizon Technology. 

“The HDD market crossed an impressive threshold in 2020, hitting one zettabyte (ZB) of shipped capacity. That’s the equivalent of one billion terabytes (TB) of fresh storage,” Horizon says.

IDC reported high volumes of created data in 2020, partly due to people staying home more during the pandemic. And in a 2020 report done in partnership with IDC, Seagate Technologies predicts that by 2025, data will increase exponentially to hit 175 created zettabytes.

Overall, standard enterprise hard drives have greater capacity than solid-state drives. And though plenty of data center SSDs range into the multiple-terabyte size, where HDDs win is their cost per capacity. Hard drives are still cheaper overall. 

While SSDs are popular, hard drive capacity continues to increase, IDC expects that HDDs will remain the most common installed storage medium until at least 2024.

5. More Storage Arrays

Disk arrays don’t just hold hard drives: they include other features like redundancy, tiering, and drive-level encryption. 

Storage arrays exist in multiple environments, including data centers and edge deployments. 

The size of an edge data center partially dictates the size of the HDD and SSD form factors and the storage arrays. 

Many enterprise arrays support both HDDs and SSDs. Some enterprise storage arrays include:

  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise HP StorageWorks XP10000
  • Dell PowerVault ME4
  • Dell/EMC Disk Storage Array
  • Lenovo ThinkSystem DS4200

Read Next: Server Market: Overview, Features, Benefits, and Best Providers

Jenna Phipps
Jenna Phipps
Jenna Phipps is a staff writer for Enterprise Storage Forum and eSecurity Planet, where she covers data storage, cybersecurity and the top software and hardware solutions in the storage industry. She’s also written about containerization and data management. Previously, she wrote for Webopedia. Jenna has a bachelor's degree in writing and lives in middle Tennessee.

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