India’s demand for storage doubles each year: Jackie Bao, Western Digital

The single largest consumption segment of flash is smartphone today which will continue to grow, says Jackie Bao, director of product marketing at Western Digital.

Apurva Venkat Jan 11th 2018

As the use and availability of data increases in India, the pattern in which content is consumed has also changed. With huge amount of content being consumed, the need for storage in mobile devices has increased tremendously and is expected to further increase with 5G wireless connectivity. Faster speed of downloads, would mean more content being downloaded. In an interview with Jackie Bao, director of Product Marketing, Embedded and Integrated Solutions, EIS, Western Digital; she explains why the demand of storage from India is double that of the global average.

Excerpts from the interview:   

The demand for storage grew in 2016 mainly because of the 40 per cent drop in cost. How do you see the demand for storage growing in countries like India?

There have been various reasons that affected the supply situation past 18 months, therefore there was a pricing decrease as well. From the mobile market perspective we see that curve, we definitely see the capacity continuously increase.

The worldwide average demand is doubling every two years, but for India market, it is actually doubling every year. In 2016 the average increase in demand was 14 percent for India and in 2017 it increased to around 28 percent. For 2018 it is expected to grow to 40 percent. Hence India’s capacity growth curve is higher year over year than the worldwide figures.
What are key catalysts for the high growth numbers for India than the global average?
One is, India started on a lower base of capacities, it’s more price sensitive market, and we have been buying lower ASP average selling price phones than the world. So because we started at much lower capacity, we are growing. Now a number of brands have launched phones with much higher capacity. So consumers are also going for it.

Key Takeaway's

Average global increase in demand for storage

Doubles every 2 years

Average increase in storage demand in India

Doubles every year

Largest demand creating segment


Smart Phones

Main factors for increase

5G network,

AI application, Cheaper data and phones

Segments to watch out for

Automobile, Connected homes

Secondly, all the phones from China are already shifting in China at certain capacity level. What they are trying to do is, they are trying to get the same phone, then modify it for the Indian market. And they offer that capacity in India, which previously was never there. It kinds of jigger the overall market, in terms of consuming more embedded storage.

Thirdly, those markets are more saturating, for example, the China market, everybody already has two to three phones, and in India we are going through the 2G, 3G, 4G transition and the Jio-Reliance encouraging people to get phones and to get data. Now the data availability is much more in India, hence more apps are coming. The market is still growing here and hence the growth curve now gets bigger.

Mobile is just one market trigger point responsible for the huge growth. We still have other things like the industrial use case, surveillance cameras, point of sale machines, data centers. We find that there is an explosion of data with industry 4.0 era becoming prevalent. That is definitely driving the growth from a demand perspective for more data.
As this growth increases, there is cost factor that also comes into play, so how can company actually look at reducing cost of storage, I am talking about OEM’s and organizations?
Semiconductor technology follows Moore’s law. According to Moore’s law every one and half year, it actually scales down. In fact for NAND, it’s actually even faster, that’s how we scale down today. What we are also starting to see especially in the enterprise space is, if they have 100 hard drives, they don’t need 100 flash drives for same amount of throughput or performance. If they have around 20, that can give same performance. They are looking at it from the total cost of ownership stand. It reduces their power, cooling cost, etc. Over all operational expenditure is reducing by using flash. The laptops are using more SSD storage because there is no moving parts inside the laptop hence the breakage of components and the fail rate is actually low. Hence companies get a good ROI on the investments in SSD for laptops. That’s how we are helping to reduce costs for enterprises across the services.
And for NAND itself, in the earlier 2D die technology, the node was closer and smaller which helped reduce cost. And in the 3D die you get an additional layer. The more the layer the more effective is the storage capacity and the cost becomes much lower cost.
There is certain data which we need to perform every time for very fast activities, we call it as fast data. And then there is certain data which we do not access every day, which we call the big data, but you still need to keep it. You might keep that data for long period of time, either to perform analytics, or sometimes for government regulatory perspective like insurance, Telco or banks Etc. So organizations have to tier the data, they have to differentiate between big data and the fast data. Big data can accordingly be retired on to the big size hard drives at much lower cost, for a longer period of time. That’s how organizations decide how to lower the cost of storage, where to store what and how to manage it.
In terms of industry demand, when Flash storage became popular, one of the biggest concerns was the fact that they have invested in primary data centers and storage devices, so why shift to Flash?
Let me give you an example, let’s assume there is a company which is an online travel portal. His business is related to, how many people come and search things and buy tickets online. Now suppose he has to invest money from hard drive to Flash, he can handle many more million transaction per second. So amount of revenue he generates by a putting this Flash storage, is far more than what investment he is doing. Companies are understanding where and when to put Flash, where it’s getting them returns on investment and when not to put flash.
In terms of growth, do you see Flash growing more on the hybrid variety growing more? An IDC report this year, said that while flash grew by 1.2 billion, the hybrid which is permutation of both, still continues to grow in revenue by 2.1 billion dollars.
It depends on segment, the IDC report was for the PC market. We have four segments here, mobile and compute, connected home, auto and industrial. In terms of mobile phone depending on its form factor it is always flash. However, in the enterprise segment we see both growing - hybrid (hard drives plus flash) and flash. Pure flash is actually required for only in certain use cases like online transaction processing type of work load or running data base where performance is critical. For most other tier 1 or 2 applications, Hybrid is also growing very much. Over all we are seeing storage being tiered. The first access for the application will be something around flash. For example, your Facebook post today will be on Flash, and the older ones will go on like a hard drive. Most used application and information are called Tier Zero. These are for immediate use. So, we do think that hard drives also continue to grow of non-tier zero category information, in those kind of segments.
What would be the next big demand for storage that we will see besides mobile? Do you see other segments in future?
We anticipate auto and connected home segments to post a huge demand. Automotive is very relevant when the concept of connected cars or autonomous cars become relevant, and there is a huge amount of data generated and storage required there. There’s Cloud storage which is actually becoming big. Another thing is around edge analytics, surveillance cameras, consumer gateways and industry gateways.

Take for example, in China there are 400 million surveillance cameras. There is a need for a local storage on these 400 million cameras. All these cameras have local flash storage to store 24 to 48 hours of data, and then it is tiered to a WD Purple coloured drive locally, which is may be 100 terabyte. Then after 30 or 60 days we have to back it up somewhere in a large archival storage. So there is are different tier of storage in every application.

However, the single largest consumption segment of flash is smartphone today and it’s continue to grow.