Backblaze Debuts Open Source Storage Pod 4.0

Posted on March 20, 2014 By Pedro Hernandez

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Backblaze, a cloud backup services provider, has taken the wraps off its latest open source storage system design, Storage Pod 4.0.

The result of a sweeping redesign enabled the company to improve performance while slashing costs. "This new Storage Pod performs four times faster, is simpler to assemble, and delivers our lowest cost per gigabyte of data storage yet," boasted the company in a blog post.

Storage Pod 4.0 is a big departure from previous versions. Backblaze switched from a 5-drive backplane design to "individual direct wire SATA/Power connectors." Two 40-port SATA 3 HighPoint Rocket 750 cards replace the old three 4-port SATA card setup.

Newer, more efficient Intel Core i3-3240 processors (22nm "Ivy Bridge") take the place of the previous generation's Core i3-3240 (32nm "Sandy Bridge") CPUs. The company also cut the number of power supplies from two to a single unit capable of providing enough power for all the system's hard drives and other components.

These changes helped Backblaze deliver 180 TB of storage for $0.051 per GB, the company's "lowest cost per GB to date." As a bonus, the new Storage Pods are easier to build and maintain, reported the company.

Each system packs 45 drives, each providing 4 TB, which is currently the sweet spot for Backblaze. The company passed on 5 and 6 TB drives because "these higher capacity drives are not yet widely available and are not cost effective for Backblaze at the moment." An analysis showed that costs range from $0.09 per GB to $0.124 per GB, far more than the $0.04 per GB that the company can achieve with off-the-shelf 4 TB consumer drives.

The company sparked some controversy late last year when it pitted enterprise hard drives against their consumer-grade counterparts, which Backblaze leverages in its own data storage infrastructure. Distinguished Engineer Brian Beach concluded that except for better warranties, enterprise drives just weren't worth the extra cost.

Backblaze provides pointers on buying a Storage Pod 4.0 via storage vendor 45Drives or building one's own, along with a handy parts list. The company pays approximately $9,305 for each system, which is lower than the build-your-own estimate of $10,587 because of its bulk-buying practices.

A Storage Pod from 45Drives costs approximately $12,603. Backblaze estimates that it saves 30 percent on each new system than the previous one, but warns that shifting market dynamics or supply chain interruptions, like the floods in Thailand in 2011, can have an adverse effect on cost.

"Over the next few months we'll continue to look for ways to decrease the various costs and with the expected increase in storage capacities such as 5 and 6 TB drives we’re sure the cost will drop below $0.05 per GB," predicted the company.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InfoStor. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.


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