Skip to content Skip to footer

Western Digital Champions Zoned Storage, an open initiative redefining data centres for Zettabyte scale

With a focus on enabling purpose-built, open and scalable data centre architectures, Western Digital has launched Zoned Storage, an initiative that brings together new innovations and industry standards for cloud and hyperscale data centre architects to design efficient storage tiers that help maintain competitive TCO and achieve greater economies of scale as we approach the zettabyte-scale era.  

By 2023 and beyond, enterprises, machines, industries, consumers, science and more will be generating 103 zettabytes per year, according to IDC.

For this next-generation of data, new data centre constructs, such as composable disaggregated infrastructure, are needed as today’s general-purpose architectures are inefficient and can carry resource and cost overhead when faced with an increasing span of workloads, applications and datasets.

As more and more of this data will be sequential in nature – video, IoT/edge data, surveillance, or data that can be grouped or “zoned” into larger chunks such as large AI/ML datasets – there are opportunities to organise workloads for better performance and efficiencies with lower TCO by accelerating the adoption of zoned storage devices.

The Zoned Storage architecture enables applications, host and storage to orchestrate data placement and take full advantage of the highest available storage capacities typically with shingled magnetic recording (SMR) HDDs and the emerging zoned namespaces (ZNS) standard for NVMe SSDs to deliver better endurance and predictable, low-latency QoS performance.

A planned extension of the NVMe standard, ZNS complements SMR technology, enabling developers to take advantage of both SMR and ZNS under a single storage stack, regardless of media type.

With 50% of Western Digital’s HDD exabyte shipments expected to be on SMR by 2023, customers will be able to leverage their SMR application development to encompass high-capacity ZNS SSDs. Delivering intelligence to application architectures, SMR and ZNS will be key foundational building blocks of the new zettabyte-scale era now and into the future.

“There’s no doubt that the industry needs to come together and find new and creative ways to design and architect infrastructures for the future to more intelligently and efficiently optimise workloads, and storage and compute infrastructure,” said Ashish Nadkarni, group vice president, Infrastructure Systems, Platforms and Technologies at IDC. 

“With total HDD and SSD revenue expected to reach 27% of total IT infrastructure spend by 2022, we see SMR, SSDs and ZNS together as a standout opportunity for cloud and hyperscale data centre customers to optimise infrastructure for better cost economies at scale.

“Unifying the ZNS and SMR architectures via open, standards-based initiatives is a logical industry step, which can take advantage of SMR HDD areal density gains and new innovations in Flash. Whoever enters the market first, will definitely have a competitive advantage on TCO and the learning curve.”

Increasingly, cloud service providers are investing in host software that can manage high-capacity SMR HDDs to deliver better TCO to customers at scale. SMR and ZNS are fundamentally re-shaping cloud and enterprise data centres, delivering long-term TCO into the future.  

New community site with open-source tools and libraries

As a natural extension to Western Digital’s ongoing contributions within the NVMe Consortium, and its long history of making its SMR-based tools available to the open-source community, the company has launched

Working with the open-source community, customers and industry players, is aimed to jump-start application development initiatives within the developer community as well as help data centre infrastructure engineers take advantage of Zoned Storage technologies.

The site hosts information about software development libraries, tools, ZNS information, SMR resources and reference architectures that provide a unified framework to manage purpose-built ZNS SSDs and capacity-optimized SMR HDDs.

Through this initiative, developers can gain confidence in the burgeoning ecosystem of community and industry contributors and supporters, including ATTO Technology, Broadcom, Mellanox and SUSE. 

You may also like

Stay In The Know

Get the Data Centre Review Newsletter direct to your inbox.