Hybrid Drive Technology: A Perfect Fit for Big Data Storage

The HDDs (hard disk drives) are not going to lose their dominance in the marketplace and come down to a level below the SSDs or any other media. This is because consumers using traditional IT segments (like Personal Computers) will still deploy an HDD on their systems. Further, the demand for private cloud storage by small businesses is only going to accelerate its growth.

It is no surprise that hard disk capacity has the benefit of cost effectiveness, but this is only achieved by compromising some performance. On the other hand, flash drives or SSD drives offer huge performance benefits and increased the scope of having multiple hard drives of various types (that is HDD + SSD) on the same PC, but their cost is usually at par. Hence, the storage industry is looking forward to a solution that can combine the benefits of both these technologies while keeping the cost same or with no big differences.

The data collected by IDC reports suggests that HDDs are going to maintain this position over the next five years. You would possibly see a rise in the revenue for the HDD industry in due course of time. When it comes to performing larger reads and writes, HDDs are a good option as their performance is competitive.

John Rydning, who is the research vice president for Hard Disk Drives at IDC, said,

“In many respects, the hard disk drive industry has collectively hit the ‘reset’ button,” said John Rydning, research vice president. A reset of the HDD industry structure should allow for the remaining HDD industry participants to slowly reduce HDD prices from current levels at a rate that still delivers value to customers, while at the same time ensuring sufficient funding is available to develop new HDD technologies that are needed to improve HDD capacity, performance, reliability, power consumption, and security. Still, long-term revenue growth will only be realized if the remaining participants transform into storage device and storage solution suppliers with a broad range of products for a wide variety of markets.”

Further, the high cost of solid-state drives means that the legacy disks are going to be around for at least a decade.

Maximized performance at an affordable cost has become the objective of entire industry. Now, the drive vendors have taken a leap forward with the new hybrid drive technology, a mix of NAND flash and rotating disk technologies. Seagate is already into the business and has started offering hybrid HDD that can provide unparalleled speed and high reliability. It has released 10 K enterprise hybrids that have 8 -16 GB SLC flash caches and enhanced data placement software.

The big question is what you are expecting from your hybrid solution. It could mean different things for the consumers and the enterprises. Some key points are listed below:


The hybrid drive should resemble 20% an SSD in terms of everyday performance. The size of the flash cache will play a major role in deciding the performance as different groups of users have different needs, casual users ‘8’ GB, power users ‘16-32’ GB, and enterprises ’16-32’ GB.


Integrating flash with disk technology is costly. In order to get profit for vendors and value for consumers, larger and faster drives should be the major focus.


Reliability is the key concern for enterprise users. So, SLC flash should be used in hybrid drives that are specifically designed for enterprise buyers. Consequently, MLC flash will do for the hybrids that target the consumer market. Further, the flash should be employed as a cache and not for data protection purpose. Where as, HDD would fail more frequently than hybrid drives and soon you’ll need to an efficient hard drive recovery program.


The hybrid hard drives should be equipped with a utility that could optimize the caching process and follow a standard set of caching rules. This will good for the marketing viewpoint.

The move to hybrid drive technology will certainly give you faster boots and application starts in addition to the storage capacity that you need for your high-volume information assets.