Western Digital drives into high-end

Western Digital (WD) is the latest hard drive vendor to enter the SCSI market in search of higher-margin workstation and server customers.

The US firm announced 2.1Gb and 4.3Gb 3.5-inch SCSI-3 drives on Wednesday in its first bid to lure customers from the likes of erstwhile IDE rivals, Seagate and Quantum. Volume delivery is expected in October or November with distribution through New Malden, Surrey-based Ideal Hardware.

Ideal Hardware product manager Seamus Twohig said that WD has an excellent chance so long as it remains conservative in its aspirations.

"WD has an excellent reputation for IDE, and has looked at Quantum and Seagate and seen an opportunity. They're not going to be leaders in SCSI but they've got 2-4Gb products and soon they'll have 9Gb. Seagate and Conner merging offers them an opportunity to give OEMs a second source and they should be strong through distribution.

"This move gives them an opportunity to offer both IDE and SCSI to many of the same customers, so it broadens their reach."

Twohig said that Hewlett-Packard's (HP) exit from the high-end drive business had left a message for would-be entrants. "HP wanted to be a market leader with 9Gb drives and magneto-resistive heads, and realised they couldn't. WD is not trying to do anything silly like own the market. They're a quality company."

PCDN COMMENT:

Buttoned-down approaches to lucrative markets are rare in a PC industry that still has big players with get-rich-quick attitudes. Western Digital has come back from the brink it found itself overlooking not five years ago with an unfashionable blend: ex-IBM management and customer service. Its policy for SCSI looks bang-on - look for WD to be in a top 5 position by the end of the decade.

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