Seagate vs. Western Digital

Seagate and Western Digital are two of the biggest names in data storage worldwide. Each company has gained market share over the decades through a series of mergers and acquisitions and offer portfolios of high-quality products and services at competitive prices.

While the two companies are engaged in a long-running battle for the consumer hard drive market, they also compete in the enterprise storage realm — though their offerings are different in significant ways. Let’s look at how the storage providers compare:

See more: The Storage Management Market

Portfolio

Seagate

Seagate logo.

Seagate’s portfolio of enterprise data solutions falls under the brand Lyve. Lyve is an edge-to-cloud mass storage platform geared toward businesses with large volumes of unstructured data. The platform is designed to position storage infrastructure at the edge and to work with any cloud vendor or computing ecosystem.

Further, Seagate states that it will not implement egress or access fees to data, eliminating cost barriers that exist in some enterprise storage solutions. Services under the Lyve rubric include:

  • Lyve Cloud: Enterprise cloud storage with limitless scalability and a simple pricing structure, which Seagate states will remain consistent for the long term. Billing is strictly on a pay-per-terabyte-stored basis, with no additional fees for data retrieval, upload, read/write operations, etc.
  • Lyve Mobile: High-capacity edge storage, with applications for permanent or temporary storage, designed for simple, fast, and secure data movement. Seagate states that billing is based on device usage, without upgrade or maintenance fees.
  • Lyve Managed Migration: Data migration service designed to transfer information off legacy media formats and into the cloud.

Seagate also offers enterprise storage drives, such as the X series hard disk drives (HDDs) with up to 20 TB of capacity or the E series HDDs with up to 10  TB. Its Nytro solid-state drives (SSDs) scale up to 3.8 TB for a SATA drive, and 15.3 TB for SAS. Other data storage systems include its Corvault self-healing, self-managed storage devices, and flash, hybrid, and disk arrays.

Western Digital

Western Digital has a more focused approach on which industries the company gears itself toward, such as the automotive sector. The company also manufactures hardware and software solutions to support data centers, edge computing centers, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. These offerings include:

  • Automotive Technologies: Western Digital is building tech solutions for autonomous vehicles, such as vehicle-to-vehicle communications devices, digital cockpit hardware and software, event data recorders, and transportation-as-a-service (TaaS) products.
  • IoT and Edge Computing: Scalable Ultrastar storage platforms, industrial-grade SSDs, microSDs, and mobile iNAND embedded flash drives for the application stack of a smart sensor to an edge gateway server.
  • Zoned Storage: An open-source initiative to facilitate greater scalability in data centers, using shingled magnetic recording in HDDs and zoned namespaces in SSDs.
  • Machine Learning: Edge-targeted, low-latency video transcoding units and high-power processors to support machine learning (ML) applications at the edge.

Western Digital’s enterprise SSDs scale in capacity up to 8 TB, and their WD Gold enterprise class SATA HDDs can house 20 TB of data each. In addition, the company sells a robust portfolio of data center platforms, from their Ultrastar Edge Ruggedized Edge Server to the more mobile Ultrastar Edge Transportable Server.

See more: Top Trends in Data Storage Management

Partner Programs

Both Seagate and Western Digital have their own partner programs.

Seagate

Seagate Enterprise Partner Program Benefits:

  • On-demand training through an online portal
  • Sales and marketing support with access to technical white papers, MDF funds, a searchable knowledge base, and product comparisons
  • Members-only partner portal with access to sales and marketing resources
  • A monthly newsletter with thought leadership, industry trends, and product reviews

Noteworthy Seagate partners include Costco, Amazon, Newegg, CDW, and Walmart.

Western Digital

Western Digital has several partner programs and is in the process of consolidation. At present, its enterprise program is not accepting new applications. Overall, its programs offer:

  • Points on qualifying products
  • Early access to Western Digital products
  • Access to Western Digital University to learn about its product portfolio
  • Connecting with subject-matter experts
  • Access to information on Western Digital storage platforms and server solutions

Notable Western Digital partners include AMD, Broadcom, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP.

Use Cases

Seagate

Early in the pandemic, a film crew partnered with Seagate to implement a solution that would enable film production to proceed in remote, low-bandwidth, low-internet connectivity settings, while still maintaining routine camera backups.

The solution was Lyve Mobile arrays, a seamless storage-as-a-service solution with high-capacity, high-performance data transfers and on-site backups. The filmmakers produced roughly 2 TB per hour of footage, peaking at 12 TB per day. Lyve arrays made on-site backups simple and rapid, and the data was highly portable, able to be transitioned quickly to the off-site editing crew.

Western Digital

Smashing particles at the Large Hadron Collider generates obscene amounts of data in literally seconds, with one second of collisions creating one petabyte of data. This information is processed by nearby computer farms, filtered, processed, and sent to a data center.

CERN, the organization involved, was targeting a read/write speed of 12.5 GB per second, theoretically achievable with 48 drives, but the temperature and vibration of the drives posed a challenge.

Western Digital deployed its Ultrastar Data60 Storage Platform, armed with ArcticFlow thermal zone cooling technologies and IsoVibe vibration isolation technology, to keep the whole array running cool and steady.

Storage Performance

Each year, storage provider Backblaze publishes statistics on hard drive failure rates. In their analysis for 2021, Seagate’s annualized failure rates are down considerably over the past three years, from a high point of nearly 3% failure in 2019 to its current position of 1.5%.

This data is aggregated from many different hard drives, and some drives have performed better than others. Western Digital Drives have consistently outperformed Seagate in terms of reliability, failing less than .5% of the time for as long as Backblaze has kept track.

Recognition

Seagate

Seagate has been recognized as a market leader for enterprise HDDs, receiving several awards from IT Brand Pulse. HPCwire awarded Seagate for providing the “best HPC collaboration between government and industry,” “the best HPC storage product or technology,” and the “top five new technologies to watch.” The company has also received extensive recognition for its diversity initiatives.

Western Digital

Western Digital has been awarded by Forbes as one of America’s top companies and as one of the 100 fastest-growing companies. And its corporate social responsibility, ethical conduct, and diversity initiatives have all received recognition.

Conclusions

The two storage providers have long provided high-quality storage devices for enterprise needs. Their products and services differentiate in many significant ways at the enterprise level.

Through its recently launched Lyve, Seagate is attempting to cut out a space in the storage-as-a-service market, while Western Digital is maintaining its dominance in the manufacturing of storage hardware.

Western Digital is also focusing on IoT devices and the auto sector, developing solutions to problems that have yet to hit the market. Western Digital also distinguishes itself as providing high-reliability, low-failure drives, though Seagate has made significant reductions in its annualized failure rates year over year.

The HDD and SSD markets are highly competitive, with iterative gains being made by all players in the field each year, and performance and reliability are variable between models.

Seagate

  • Portfolio: Cloud storage, edge computing, data migration services
  • Partner Program: Training, sales resources, knowledge base
  • Storage Performance: Much better than past years; reliable

Western Digital

  • Portfolio: Storage hardware, edge hardware, IoT hardware
  • Partner Program: Closed to new members
  • Storage Performance: Consistently good
Litton Power
Litton Power
Litton Power is a writer and public affairs consultant. He has an extensive background in science, technology, and the energy sector and was a former science communicator at Idaho National Laboratory. He lives in Tennessee, where he spends his free time hiking, camping, and building furniture.

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