Tag Archives: IBM

The Swansong of the HDD?

Storage components have come a long way since the first 3.75 MB HDDs were introduced by IBM in 1956. 2016 in particular has been a landmark year for storage components, as aftermarket sales of solid state drives (SSDs) through European distribution overtook those of hard disk drives (HDDs) for the first time, marking a trend which we expect to speed up in the coming years.

HDD manufacturers have recognised the growing importance of SSDs: in the last two years they have bought up several players in the SSD market or/and have started to produce SDDs themselves. As well they might. SSDs are already better in every technical aspect: they have a larger capacity, they are faster, and they are more reliable. Unlike HDDs, which have mechanical parts, there are (almost) no limits to the development of SSDs and their miniaturisation. Indeed, whilst HDD capacity appears to be capped at the 10 TB currently touted by WDC’s flagship model, Seagate unveiled a huge 60 TB SSD in August last year at the Flash Memory Summit.

Manufacturers have yet to give up on HDDs however, extending their lifespan by investing in such technology as Helium or SMR, and banking on the one very clear advantage of HDDs over SSDs – price. For now, the cost of a gigabyte of storage on HDD is about a quarter of that on SDD, and this makes it attractive to businesses who want to lower IT infrastructure costs as much as possible and do not  need the technical advantage of SSDs.

For businesses where time efficiency represents a potential cost-saving however, the move to SSD for their IT infrastructure represents a worthy operational investment, notwithstanding the cost premium. At CONTEXT, for example, we recently made the choice to transfer our main database from an all-HDD system to an all-SSD system by Q2 2017. By doing this we should save 10-15% in terms of time and resources. The savings will allow us to develop new projects but, more immediately, our reports will run faster. This means we can look to deliver our products more quickly, which is key for our clients – the earlier they have information, the more actionable it is.

Storage requirements for such things as back-up on the other hand do not need the latest speed and features, and in areas such as these HDDs will remain the go-to technology for the time being, but only as they remain the cheaper option.

Seagate is saying that HDDs will be around for the next 20 years or so, we suspect they may not last that long. Will they be gone earlier? We’ll be watching closely.

by GM

 

 

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Apple results break world record for sales. So how did they do it? And what does it mean for the market?

On 27 January 2015, Apple made the most significant announcement in their history post-Steve Jobs: they are the most profitable company, EVER!

So how did they do it? And what does it mean for the market?

We have always assumed that when Apple launched a product, it created the market. But, in most cases, the markets already existed.

From the first computer to the iPod and the iPhone, there were a number of start-up companies, and some larger ones, already operating in these segments.  Apple’s typical business model is to set out to redefine the segment, regardless. Consequently, through clever marketing and positioning, consumers think that segment has always belonged to Apple. Take the iPod, for example.  At the start, household brands such as Sony owned the market for portable music players. For mobile phones, it was Nokia. The portable organiser market was more fragmented with no real leader. Seeing their opportunity, Apple introduced the iPad, securing dominance that would then strengthen their position over the other two markets.

The last 18 months have not been easy for Apple. Samsung have taken the lead in the smartphone segment and various Intellectual Property battles have taken the shine off their offering. But with the launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, they’ve set about redefining the large-screen smartphone market and have succeeded in an instant, as highlighted by the staggering results in the first quarter following the product launch.

So what might be in store over the next three years, particularly in the current hot area of wearables and Connected Home?

Before addressing this market, Apple needed a sales boost in their sweet-spot smartphone segment thanks to the iPhone 6; to regain share and show the world that they can and will own the market again when it comes to user experience and apps. This is particularly relevant as tablet and smartphone sales are posting a reduction whereas apps sales are seeing a significant growth and are an increasing source of profit. The iPhone 6 is laying the path for the Apple Watch, which is due for launch in April and will be a significant product for the company. Why? Because it allows Apple to remain close to their users, either in the pocket or now the wrist, and track key user behaviours, but more essentially provide the platform that will allow consumers to make payments and interact with technology, particularly home appliances and cars. They have already launched Apple Pay, a payments method which is now rolling out as more merchants embrace the new technology. On the B2B side, Apple is partnering with IBM, the latter very eager to focus on software around big data, social and mobile whilst at the same time shedding their server hardware business to Lenovo.

But what about the consumer interaction with “Things”?

The Internet Of Things is clearly an arena in which Apple will be a big player in the future amongst other such as Cisco, who are keen to justify their dominance in Networking. They are working on their Connected Home developer kit, HomeKit, which should launch in April, perhaps even at the same time as the Apple Watch. There are already plenty of players in those two segments, both start-ups and very big brands such as Google (via Nest/Revolve) and Samsung (SmartThings), but we should expect Apple to redefine the segments too. If this does not happen from launch, Apple will quickly correct it, making all their profit work towards success.

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Filed under Mobile technology, Uncategorized

Apple and IBM: clever move or desperation?

My grandmother always told me that if I couldn’t say anything nice about someone, then it was better to say nothing.

OK… so let’s talk about Apple and IBM’s announcement on July 15th. It was a surprise. Two completely different companies uniting behind a common goal, to bring mobile business applications into the enterprise. And at first sight it makes sense: IBM is big in enterprise, Apple is king of the mobile consumer and so far has shied away for mixing it with Microsoft to gain a foothold in the mobile office. Combine the two and, hey presto, the best of mobility is now acceptable to enterprise CIO’s who otherwise might have followed the inevitable Microsoft path.

That, as my grandmother would say, is neither a nice nor awful thing to say. But what do the numbers say? CONTEXT tracks sales through Distributors throughout Europe. Their customers are the resellers who serve businesses who are the primary target of the Apple and IBM alliance. In the second quarter of 2013, from the €10.4bn of total revenues tracked, Apple accounted for 7% and IBM 6%. By the second quarter of 2014, that had changed to 9% and 5% respectively. Not much in it, you could say. But look at what’s changing in the ecosystems. Over the same period, iOS share of the tablet business went from 38% to 29%, while Android share went from 60% to 68%. Even Microsoft’s Win 8.1 increased, albeit slightly. Samsung’s share of Distributor revenues over the same period went from 9% to 7%. And that’s the point. The relentless march of Android bolstered by a myriad of devices and a champion with deep pockets, and not yet conquered by Microsoft, is threatening Apple’s position and could scupper IBM’s Mobile First programme.

So it’s a great idea. Google, Microsoft: watch out. My grandmother would have been proud of me.

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