The impact of flooding in Thailand on PC inventories going into the holiday has been widely reported, but an obvious connection we’ve been missing has been raised by the New York Times, and it’s an important one. According to interviews conducted by Nick Bilton , cloud computing could grind to a halt early next year as storage prices skyrocket, and supply reaches historic lows. Flooding in the region has shuttered more than 1,000 factories, including several which are responsible for pumping out a significant percentage of the world’s mechanical hard drives.
“You really can’t grow and expand the Internet without the expansion of storage hard drives,” explained John Monroe, research vice president at Gartner. “There are an awful a lot of ramifying impacts that are being incompletely considered here.” Google and Facebook are noted by Monroe as examples of companies that consume an immense amount of data, and the cost of storing it could become exponentially more expensive in the coming months.
It is estimated by analysts that hard drive manufacturers will ship 50 million fewer drives than usual over the next two quarters, and Seagate has suggested it might be even higher. “By the first quarter of next year, all worldwide inventories of hard drives will be sucked dry,” Monroe warned. “This is a crisis of escalating dimension for many I.T. revenue streams.” Monroe said that the impact from the flooding are yet to be felt across the industry.
You could argue that PC makers should transition more aggressively to SSD’s for storage, even though these prices will likely also spike due to increased demand, but datacenters don’t have that luxury. Backup plants in the Philippines, Malaysia, and China won’t be much help either. Almost every facility surveyed is already operating at 90% capacity or more.