Edtech Surge: Western Digital sees high growth in storage devices

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Published: June 15, 2020 7:24 AM

Different edtech platforms have different ways of imparting educational content. Some, like Vedantu, have all the content on their online platform.

Western Digital, storage devices, edtech platforms, online platform, edtech firms, Vivek Tyagi, WDC India, iDream EducationVivek Tyagi, senior director, Enterprise Sales, WDC India

Different edtech platforms have different ways of imparting educational content. Some, like Vedantu, have all the content on their online platform. Others, like Byju’s, Extramarks and iDream Education, also offer tablets and pen drives with preloaded content. The latter model ensures that those who don’t have access to the internet can continue learning. In addition, downloading an app and studying on a smartphone can throw a challenge to parents of younger kids, who may not exactly know what all kids are accessing on a smartphone. The current edtech surge has, therefore, also lead to a surge in demand for tablets offered by edtech firms.

Vivek Tyagi, senior director, Enterprise Sales, WDC India—the data storage solutions company—says that the company has seen a significant double-digit percentage jump in demand for microSD cards in the last two months.
(The tablets that edtech companies offer to students come with a microSD card on which the content is saved; WDC makes these microSD cards, as also enterprise storage solutions.)

This growth, Tyagi says, hasn’t peaked yet. “Initially, the focus of edtech platforms was more on science and mathematics, but now they are also developing content for commerce (for classes 11th and 12th) and non-science subjects,” he says. “This will translate into more demand for our micro storage devices.”

Enterprise storage

Any edtech company creates content by getting the best teachers in a studio and shooting high-definition 4K videos. Several hours of that raw video in high definition runs into terabytes. “That footage needs to be stored somewhere, and that means these companies will need more enterprise storage. This is another area of growth for us,” Tyagi says.
Unlike edtech companies, schools aren’t yet big customers of data storage solutions; this might change over the next few months. Currently, most schools are holding live classes on platforms such as Zoom, Cisco and Teams, but Tyagi says schools are realising that not every child is able to grasp what the teacher is teaching online. “Some schools may consider recording these videos and storing them in a video repository so that students can watch again. This trend hasn’t yet started, but if the lockdown continuous for long, it will catch up. This will expand the market for companies like ours.” Schools, going forward, may have an online library (like physical libraries right now) and that will generate a lot of data and the need for more storage.

Dual drives

In remote areas where internet connectivity is poor, it’s tough for schools to live stream classes. The solution is recoding lectures on a micro device and giving these to students. While schools can choose any device, Tyagi says WDC has a solution called dual drives—a storage device with a USB Type-A connector on one side and USB Type-C on the other (Type-A connects to PCs, TVs and set-top boxes, and Type-C to smartphones and tablets). This pen drive utility (SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive), he says, lets you move content between your devices—from your smartphone or tablet to your laptop or PC and so on.

New kinds of devices

Globally, Tyagi says that the demand from cloud service providers has significantly grown during Covid-19. “Most people are working from home, and data is stored on the cloud, and so the demand for storage on the cloud has gone up.” The trend he foresees is that a lot more data will be generated on the cloud, and those cloud companies will expect higher and higher capacity hard drives from companies such as WDC for storage. “The hard disk drive form factor is fixed for the last 20-30 years (three-and-a-half inches). The only way to reduce total cost of ownership for a cloud company or any other data centre company is that in the same form factor, instead of 10 terabytes can we provide, say, a 14 terabyte hard drive or a 20 terabyte hard drive, so that dollar per gigabyte gets reduced,” he adds.

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