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The Backbone of India’s Digital Revolution: How Data Centers are Transforming the Nation

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By Jaganathan Chelliah, Senior Director – Marketing, India & Middle East and Africa, Western Digital

With 142.86 crore citizens, India has overtaken China as the world’s most populated nation, according to recent UN statistics1. This burgeoning population also corresponds to a massive internet user base that is projected to reach 900 million by 20252. Currently, the country has 759 million active internet users, according to a recent IAMAI estimate.2 India is building a strong infrastructure to house the data explosion on the back of increased smartphone penetration, affordable internet and now availability of 5G. As a result, the demand for data centers is seeing an upward trend. Thus, by 2025, 45 more 3rd party co-located data centers3 are expected to be added to the nation’s present 138.

This technology wave is not only impacting consumers, but businesses as well. Companies that want to stay competitive must adopt a new digital alchemy that enables them to acquire, store, and analyze huge volumes of data, both, structured and unstructured data.  Consequently, the need for storage is spiraling. IT architects who oversee public, private, edge, and hybrid cloud infrastructures must now implement storage solutions that offer the best performance at the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO). In a cost-benefit study of storage options, lowering TCO is a key factor, which is why cloud architects continue to choose hard disk drives, HDD, as the main workhorse for enterprise data centers. Overall, high-capacity HDDs installed in edge and private cloud data centers allow businesses to implement applications, cost effectively, for processing and analyzing extensive volumes of unstructured data.

High-Capacity HDDs Are Ultimate Winners  

HDDs, the mainstay storage solutions that hold our data from desktop to data center, have been a fact of life since 1957 and an immense amount of research, development and innovation has gone into the devices since then.  Today, around 80% of data in large data centers4 is stored on HDDs. Especially for Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) and Hyperscalers, where IT infrastructure is Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) and getting the most from their HDDs matters greatly. While they always look at cost and reliability, other TCO factors such as low power and sustainability are becoming equally important considerations.

According to research5, anywhere between 30% to 55% of a data center’s energy consumption goes into powering its cooling and ventilation system. Moving to the highest capacity HDDs means scaling efficiently without increasing the physical footprint. This translates into overall data center power and cooling savings, which can play an important role in helping data centers operate greener.  For instance, to install 2 petabytes (PB) of storage, utilizing 22TB HDDs rather than 16TB would require 27% fewer servers and use 26% less energy in Watts/TB idle while storing the same amount of data. By getting rid of the extra servers, infrastructure and maintenance costs are also reduced. Overall, adopting 22TB and greater capacity devices results in TCO savings. To address these ever-expanding storage needs, Western Digital Ultrastar® Data102 storage platform (JBOD) is configured with up to 102 HDDs in a compact and efficient form factor and offers up to 2.2PB1 of raw storage in 4U using the company’s ultra-high capacity 22TB HDDs.

Rapid demand for storage solutions requires constant technical breakthroughs, especially when lowering customer TCO and boosting sustainability. HDD innovations include packing more data onto each platter (known as “areal density”), stacking more platters into one drive, and a variety of other mechanical and material science advancements when it comes to HDDs. Another method to reduce the drive’s power is to fill the HDDs with helium rather than ones filled with air. As helium has a density that is one-seventh that of air, there is less turbulence within the drive. This has a number of advantages, including increasing the number of disks that can fit into the same 3.5-inch form factor, lowering the drag on the spinning disks, and eventually using less power.

As the amount of data created daily continues a parabolic rise, the success of an enterprise can heavily rely on its ability to access data and extract insights for future innovation, product design, financial decisions, and other equally essential functions, while leveraging infrastructure with the lowest TCO. Due to these reasons, HDDs will continue to be the preferred drives for data centers as they are the most cost-effective and efficient storage solution that can feasibly handle the world’s ever-expanding data needs at scale.  Overall, it is of paramount importance that CIOs now start considering data storage not as an afterthought but key part of the capacity, TCO and sustainability equation.

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