Western Digital's data center unit adds to scale-out storage portfolio

Western Digital's ActiveScale P100 is aimed a industries such as life sciences, cloud providers and media companies looking to scale out object storage.

Western Digital's data center unit, which delivered its first system about 18 months ago, is launching an integrated storage system called the ActiveScale P100 that's aimed at cloud providers and companies that traditionally used commodity hardware and open source software.

The data center unit is notable since Western Digital already has three well-known storage brands that have been acquired. First, there's Western Digital, known for its PC and standalone drives, then there's HGST, which is known for enterprise systems, and SanDisk, a flash innovator that covers multiple bases.

Here's a look at the Western Digital operating units and brands.

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ActiveScale P100 joins Western Digital's data center system division's portfolio that includes the Active Archive System and the InfiniFlash all-flash storage. Dave Tang, general manager of Western Digital's data center group, said the ActiveScale P100 is designed as an entry level system for companies looking to build out object storage quickly.

The base configuration for the ActiveScale P100 starts at 720TB raw with 480-508TB usable with scale to 2PB of capacity.

In addition, the ActiveScale P100 illustrates how Western Digital can take assets across the company and integrate them. ActiveScale P100 would be used for big data, automated trading and cloud services, but is designed to be turnkey. "Our favorite customer is one that built their own systems with open source and figured out it's too hard to support," said Tang. "Our primary competitor is companies building systems themselves."

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Western Digital's target markets for the ActiveScale P100 include cloud providers, life sciences, government and defense and media and entertainment.

For Western Digital, the ActiveScale P100, which comes with the company's Active Scale CM (cloud management) software, is also a move to cater to the likes of Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and other cloud providers. The systems scale to petabytes and start with a $150,000 list price that will ultimately be about $100,000 or less when things like volume are included.

Meanwhile, Western Digital's data center unit doesn't focus on traditional enterprise storage systems. "This is about the new realm of cloud scale infrastructure," said Tang. "We're finding the needs of the cloud scale data center are different and need new architectures."

Should Western Digital deliver commodity system, or whitebox, economics the company may find good traction going forward.

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