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HP: Hard drive shortages hitting Google, Facebook DIY servers

Google and Facebook may already be squeezed by hard drive shortages, says HP's CEO.
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Written by Larry Dignan, Contributing Editor on

The do-it-yourself server crowd is apparently having trouble procuring hard drives due to the floods in Thailand.

Facebook's servers lack vanity plastic and perhaps the supply chain connections to procure hard drives amid shortages.

HP CEO Meg Whitman said the company expected to see weaker server demand due to hard drive shortages. However, Whitman also said HP had set up a war room and was able to procure drives. "I think we'll get our fair share of drives," said Whitman.

Large cloud players who have opted to build their own servers may not be as lucky. Here's what Whitman said:

We hear all the time that people are building their own servers. There are a few number of companies that are building their own servers. I will tell you right about now they aren't building their own servers because they can't get the disk drives so they're calling us but I don't think it is a huge longer term trend. Yes, the Google and Facebook are doing some of that but I will tell you they're all calling us right now because they don't have the ability to get the drives.

A few thoughts on those comments:

  • It's likely that Google and Facebook lack the buying scale to procure drives in advance. Whitman noted she talked to the heads of all of HP's four disk drive partners and made strategic purchase of hard drives in October.
  • If companies are going to make their own stripped down servers they will have to become supply chain and procurement experts.
  • On the consumer front, the Thailand floods are likely to speed up adoption of solid state drives. If shortages persist isn't it possible that Google and Facebook would move to SSD hybrid data centers? The costs don't add up at the moment, but SSD would be an option.
  • If there's a hard drive squeeze on the DIY server players it's likely to hit in the first and second quarters. "I think this is going to be pretty tough for the industry," said Whitman.

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