Now and again in the computer industry there is a shortage of components, everyone panic buys the stock and prices shoot up.
This is happening now with hard drives. Here is what Seagate told its partners:
As has been widely reported, the severe flooding in Thailand is a tragic situation for families and businesses across the region. Currently, all Seagate facilities in Thailand are operational and our production is not constrained by either internal component supply or by our ability to assemble finished products. Rather, we are constrained by the availability of specific externally sourced components. As a result, industry demand will significantly outstrip supply at least for the December quarter and the supply disruption will continue for multiple quarters.
How long the disruption will last is hard to guess, but bearing in mind that manufacturers will be racing to restore production I doubt it will be really long-lived.
In the meantime though, buyer beware. Drives that you could once find for £50 or so in the UK are suddenly three times the price.
The best advice is to postpone that upgrade you were planning. If you cannot wait, it is still worth shopping around.
I attended Digital Winter in London this week, an event where gadgets are shown to the press.
One that caught my eye was the Drobo range of storage devices. The market is saturated with external storage solutions, but Drobo has a neat system where you simply slot any 3.5” Sata drive – no drive bracket required – into one of its units and it will add it to a pool of storage. Drobo supports thin provisioning, which means you will typically create a volume on the pool that is bigger than the space actually available. When you are running out of space, a light on the unit will turn yellow, you buy another drive and slot it in. Presuming you have two or more drives, RAID-like resiliency is built in, though Drobo calls its system BeyondRAID because of its greater flexibility. There is even an option for dual disk redundancy, so that any two drives can fail without loss of data.
I was reminded of Microsoft’s new Storage Spaces in Windows Server 8 which offers some similar features, but of course is not yet available except in early preview.
Drobo boxes support USB, FireWire, and in the high-end models iSCSI.
The snag: prices start at €359,00 for the 4 Bay firewire and USB 2.0 model, and the one you really want, the 8-bay DroboPro with iSCSI, is €1359.00. In the business range, the 12-bay iSCSI SAN is €10,799 and supports SAS as well as Sata drives.