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Hard drive shortage hits Australia

Hard drive shortage hits Australia

A global shortage of high-speed hard drives has hit Australia, with demand for larger capacity models outstripping supply, and key vendors warning of delays.

However, many products en-route to fill demand are still waiting to pass official performance certification by hardware vendors necessary to warranty the products.

Last week Computerworld revealed US customers of Hewlett Packard had been hit by delays of up to seven weeks because of drive sourcing problems for its ProLiant line of servers.

Since then both IBM and EMC have also admitted to supply-side issues sourcing hard drives for their respective servers and storage arrays.

A draft report issued last week in the US by industry analyst IDC found demand for enterprise-class hard drives exceeded supply by nearly 7 percent, or about 400,000 drives.

Some analysts are more cynical, suggesting the shortage may in part be profit driven.

While Gartner research director Phil Sargeant confirmed the shortage is now affecting deliveries in Australia, he also said vendors may be milking the situation.

"Storage vendors have been doing some 'product transitions' to maintain a profitability perspective and previously had been using the older model hard drives to keep the overall costs down," Sargeant said.

"The major enterprise [hardware] vendors have yet to certify their new drives; for example, Hitachi global storage has yet to certify some drives - so therefore a lot of storage vendors were obliged to get drives from Fujitsu and Seagate so suddenly there appears to be a shortage when it really is a product transition.

"Another reason for the shortage is there has been incredible demand in the enterprise storage space which the industry has not seen for quite some time - EMC and IBM underestimated the demand and got caught short."

Sargeant said product transitions are primarily related to 73GB/7200 rpm drives being upgraded to run at 10,000 rpm and 36GB to run at 15,000 rpm.

EMC Australia marketing director Clive Gold confirmed the shortage and said extra drives currently in Australia are being qualified and tested to fill the gap.

"At the end of the last quarter a few shipments were delayed due to a hard drive shortage," Gold said.

"[The shortage] has set us back a couple of weeks, but we believe in a few weeks time we will have caught up with the orders and do not believe there will be additional shortages.

"We have a full stock of drives in and we are burning them in, requalifying them and testing them."

IBM spokesperson Michelle Rouvere said "only a small number of customers are waiting a short time longer for product delivery", but could not specify how long they have to wait.


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