The flooding in Thailand in 2011 knocked out many factories and caused a huge shortage of drives which peaked in December 2011. Seagate said, “Shortage of drives by the end of this year is likely to be about 150 million units”.
In fact, Seagate will be auctioning some drives to find out what the market will bear and big players in IT are signing up for long term contracts. This could mean that the standard PC with a single hard drive and lowest margins will take a hit, along with M$ and its client division. SSDs are still a bit small and expensive to take up the slack.
This could be a strong stimulus for server-centric computing to minimize the number of hard drives needed in a system. In the small project I did at Easterville, only 13 client machines had hard drives out of 153 seats while servers were choked with drives. Total was about 40 hard drives for 153 seats. Not only did we save the price of 100+ hard drives, using GNU/Linux terminal servers and thin clients we saved 153 CALs (Client Access Licences), 153 client OS licensing fees and 6 server OS licences. That was the deciding factor for the project. A shortage of hard drives could push many new installations and upgrades to this solution or to the smart thingies which tend to perform like thin clients with some local processing. 2012 will be a great year for FLOSS and ARM. The shortage of hard drives could be the straw that broke the monopoly/camel’s back.