Storage disks get cheaper but watch TCO

While IT managers can expect disk storage to continue to get cheaper, the total cost of storage ownership must still be addressed, according to industry executives.

Clive Gold, director of marketing at EMC Corporation, said disk capacity doubled in size during the past 12 to 18 months while disk prices increased by 20 per cent.

"Effectively, we have seen a decrease of 30 to 40 per cent on the raw disk cost on a dollar per megabyte basis, because price has not increased at the same rate as capacity," Gold said.

Craig Davis, national sales manager, Maxtor Australia, said the price of a 73GB 10,000 RPM SCSI disk today is around $1100 whereas 12 months ago that bought a 36GB disk of the same performance.

While many IT managers exploit this trend by upgrading individual disks in order to greatly enhance the capacity of a given rack infrastructure, they need to remain aware of the total cost of ownership of storage, according to John Anderson, national product manager for storage at Sun Microsystems Australia.

Disks represent only 20 per cent of the TCO of storage ownership, Anderson said. "Factors such as avoiding downtime, administration and environmentals all contribute to the cost of storage."

Sun uses Hitachi disks in its storage products; however, its systems also support third-party storage.

Gold said: "Unlike the rapid increase in capacity, disk speeds have increased at a much slower rate, taking about six years to double."

Mike Yell, general manager of peripheral products at Fujitsu Australia, said large OEMs (original equipment manufacturer) are dictating this price-to-performance (speed) gap.

"It is still competitive from a price point and less from a performance point," Yell said. "This price reduction is being driven by the large OEMs who keep forcing the manufacturers to produce lower-cost products to better their margins and market shares."

Yell said the controlling factors for disk development are heat and power consumption and not speed or capacity.

"Another reason for the strong price movements in the SCSI market is that some of the competitors have been dumped by the global accounts and the easiest way of clearing product is by pushing it through the distribution channel at an aggressive price," Yell said.

"Our disk pricing is reflective of the current tight market where everyone falls into a narrow range," Anderson said.

Vic Madarevic, enterprise storage product manager at Hitachi Data Systems, also emphasises total cost of ownership over individual disk prices.

"The savings in simplified management and reduction in associated infrastructure enables our customers to improve the TCO without Hitachi Data Systems slashing the disk pricing to the same levels as our competitors," Madarevic said.

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