Most business files are only opened a few times, yet remain valuable enough to keep on line, just in case. That cold data is normally stored on high-performance, high-price NAS boxes at $$/GB.


2 years ago Backblaze, an online backup provider, open-sourced their storage pod design: 45 drives in a box (see Build a RAID 6 array for $100/TB). Now they’re back with v2: 45 3TB drives in a box with higher performance.

Backblaze now has over 16PB of storage pods in production.

Now for the good news
Backblaze isn’t in the box building business. They designed the storage pod for their backup business and released the plans out of the goodness of their hearts and for the free publicity.

I’ve thought that this could be a viable business for someone who doesn’t want to be the next NetApp or Isilon. Someone happy to build and ship boxes on a cost-plus basis to people who understand and can support a fault-tolerant software layer above the box, but who don’t have time to chase down miscellaneous hardware from vendors who prefer to sell in bulk.

That vendor has emerged: Protocase, the quick-turn enclosure shop that builds Backblaze’s enclosures.

I spoke to Protocase co-founder Doug Milburn – a PhD in mechanical engineering – today. Protocase will announce a complete just-add-drives storage pod: assembled, tested and software loaded box. Look for it in 2-4 weeks, priced at ≈$6k. With another $5500 for 3TB drives, it will come in at less than $90 per raw TB.

Why no drives? That’s the lion’s share of the cost and also the fastest to decline in price. They don’t need the inventory exposure and tech savvy shoppers can probably do better anyway. BTW, Backblaze has had good experience with the Hitachi HDS5C3030ALA630 drive.

The StorageMojo take
This will help energize the private cloud market by reducing the entry price. Amazon and Google don’t use NetApp or EMC. Why should you?

And the savings over renting cloud storage can be substantial as this Backblaze chart suggests:

True, Amazon provides many more services, but if you need petabytes for mini-bucks, this is hard to beat.

Courteous comments welcome, of course. Read about the v2 storage pod at the Backblaze blog post. Or get the shorter version in my ZDnet post “Build a 135TB array for $7,384.