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Seagate acquires Xyratex to boost drive testing for cloud market

Data center hard drives are growing in capacity, requiring lengthier testing processes during manufacturing.

Seagate has acquired Xyratex, a Seagate Cloud Builder Alliance partner, to strengthen the vertical integration of its disk drive manufacturing and supply chains and, in turn, become a more immediate supplier of hardware to cloud storage providers. Xyratex is a manufacturer of hard drive test equipment as well as enterprise data storage systems, including the high-performance ClusterStor and OneStor appliances.

IDC recently ranked Xyratex as the top provider of OEM disk storage solutions for the fifth consecutive year. Its ClusterStor hardware has been a key asset for enterprises that need to run demanding applications, and the company’s product portfolio includes solutions for disk processing, testing and inspection. Enterprises will increasingly need access to top-shelf testing equipment as they deploy more high-capacity HDDs to store and retain data.

“As the average capacity per drive increases to multi-terabytes, the time to test these drives increases dramatically,” stated Dave Mosley, president of operations and technology at Seagate. “Therefore, access to world-class test equipment becomes an increasingly strategic capability. As a premier provider of HDD testing equipment, Xyratex is an important partner and we are excited to integrate these important capabilities which will considerably streamline our supply and manufacturing chain for our core HDD business.”

As Forbes contributor Tom Coughlin noted, HDD shipments for 2014 may be similar to 2013 levels, slowing the decline seen in late 2012 and the early part of 2013. Shipments may rise by 2015, with demand primarily driven by interest in near-line and cold storage HDD solutions that support cloud computing projects.

Xyratex equipment will be key to controlling the backend testing costs of 10TB drives. More specifically, manufacturers such as Seagate may refine the testing processes for shingled magnetic recording and heat assisted magnetic recording, producing solutions tailored for the rapidly expanding cloud storage sector.