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Why Western Digital Is Optimistic about Big Data Growth

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Dec. 7 2017, Updated 7:30 a.m. ET

HDD could account for 70% of storage in 2020

In the chart below, we can see that data storage growth is set to rise exponentially from more than 600 exabytes (or EB) in calendar 2016 to 2,500 EB by the end of calendar 2020. This provides an opportunity to data storage companies such as Western Digital (WDC), Seagate (STX), and NetApp (NTAP) to provide a portfolio of products and solutions catering to data growth.

HDDs (hard disk drives) could be important, and WDC expects that ~70% of exabytes could reside in HDDs by 2020. This estimate stands at 90% for the data center space.

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Massive investments in the big data and analytics space

To analyze massive volumes of data, tech firms are investing heavily in machine learning and artificial intelligence (or AI). WDC expects that while US-based (SPY) firms account for 65% of total investments in AI, China (FXI) comes in second at 15%.

WDC’s October 11, 2017, report states, “AI applications represent the largest growth area in the next five years with frenetic industry investments expected to continue.”

SSD shipments to exceed HDD by 2021

According to Statista, HDD shipments are estimated to decline from 470 million units in calendar 2015 to 395 million units in 2017 and 330 million units in 2021.

Comparatively, SSD (solid-state drives) shipments are estimated to rise from 105 million units in 2015 to 190 million in 2017 and 360 million in 2021.

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