India has become an important market from the data storage solutions perspective as the country is not only the world's second largest smartphone market after China but it is also an economy that is shifting majorly towards digitisation. The government authorities are also pushing tech companies to keep their users' data locally. All this makes India an attractive market for a storage solutions provider like Western Digital, popularly known as WD.
However, the San Jose, California-based company doesn't want to be like any other storage solution provider and is eager to contribute to the ongoing data transformation in India with its list of offerings.
"The growth of data will ensure that there's growth in storage and we as a very-very strong players would definitely like to be a part of this transformation that is happening in the Indian economy," Western Digital India Marketing Director Jaganathan Chelliah tells Gadgets 360 at the sidelines of the WD Black SN750 NVMe SSD launch in New Delhi.
"The merger of the three companies has allowed us to address different segments with different technologies," asserts Chelliah. "SanDisk brought in flash [memory] and HGST brought in high-end enterprise storage solutions. WD was already strong with hard disk technologies for PC-client solutions."
The executive added that the integration of SanDisk and HGST within Western Digital also helped the overall group to cross-leverage the benefits that are offered with different brands.
After acquiring SanDisk back in 2015, Western Digital launched a limited edition of microSD cards that had preloaded vernacular content. Chelliah points out that the initiative was to give a thrust to microSD card adoption in smaller markets.
Recently, Western Digital also brought a Dual Drive pen drive under the SanDisk brand that is designed to educate the customers as to how to use a pen drive with their smartphones that can be used to back up and transfer data, depending on their needs.
"This is something that we're providing into the marketplace in India — primarily because India is a mobile-first market, unlike most other markets," says Chelliah, adding that the consumers consider the tweaks as a significant value add to the products.
Move from HDDs to SSDs
Apart from developing the solutions for smartphone users in India, Western Digital is speeding up the delivery of its solid state drives (SSDs) in the country to boost its revenue and market presence.
According to a report by CMR Research, Western Digital was amongst the top-two SSD providers in India last year.
Chelliah underlines, citing a separate CMR report, that India has shifted exponentially from hard disks to SSDs over the past three years. The report claims that the external SSD segment recorded 45 percent sequential growth in its shipments in the first quarter of the calendar year 2019. Furthermore, Samsung is said to have captured nearly 58 percent of the total external SSD segment, followed by Western Digital.
In the Indian enterprise space particularly, Dileep Nadimpalli, Research Manager of Enterprise Infrastructure at IDC India, tells Gadgets 360 that SSDs are clearly replacing HDDs in the Enterprise Storage Arrays. "In CY 2018, SSDs saw a significant double-digit YoY (year-over-year) growth, while HDDs saw a decline," says Nadimpalli.
Multiple reasons are believed behind organisations moving to SSDs. Nadimpalli says that these include better performance, lower power and cooling expenses, and better cost/ performance ratio.
Aside from enterprises, PC and laptop consumers are also largely switching from HDDs to SSDs, giving companies like Western Digital a solid reason for bringing their new and advanced SSD solutions into the Indian market.
The newest WD Black SN750 NVMe SSD is one such solution that is targeted at PC gamers and is available in a range of storage options, from 256GB to 2TB, with a starting street price of Rs. 6,929.
"As we move forward, we expect the transition from hard disks to SSDs happen pretty fast because the consumers have started seeing the benefit of using SSDs as to how it is going to make a difference with respect to their PC performance," forecasts Chelliah.
R&D from India for the world
Western Digital in 2005 established its R&D centre in Bengaluru that is currently also considered as a product development centre. Chelliah reveals over the last three years, the team at the centre has been grown from 1,000 to over 3,000.
"The R&D happens across our portfolio — starting with client solutions to commercial products to our high-end enterprise products," the executive continues.
Western Digital at MWC 2019 in Barcelona back in February unveiled its 1TB microSD card. Chelliah emphasises that it is one of the products that was conceptualised based on the efforts took place at the India R&D centre.
That being said, the executive states that Western Digital — like many other PC component makers and storage solution providers — has no plans to manufacture its hardware locally in India.
"As far as India is concerned, we believe in the vast talent pool that is available from the engineering perspective and really intend to strengthen our R&D efforts as far as India is concerned," he says.