Backblaze gives away its 67TB ‘storage pod’ design

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Online backup vendor Backblaze (reviewed here) has offered an unprecedented peek behind the curtain at their data storage facility by open-sourcing the design specification for its own, custom, massive storage system. With the information in hand, Backblaze says it’s possible to build a 67 terabyte rack-mounted storage server for less than $7,000

Backblaze provides unlimited online storage and a Mac OS X- or Windows-native backup client for $5. At that price, says Backblaze co-founder and CEO Gleb Budman, many have begun to wonder how the company can afford to stay in business.

“We looked at how other companies price it—everything from Amazon’s S3 to enterprise-level storage systems from EMC and NetApp,” Budman told Macworld. “They were easily 10 times more expensive, if not more, than the raw components.”

That’s when Backblaze decided that a DIY solution was the right way to go, and they’ve published the spec as a blog posting on their Web site. The “Backblaze Storage Pod” system comprises a custom container that occupies 4U in a standard equipment rack. Inside are 45 hard disk drives, four Serial ATA (SATA) controller cards, an Intel motherboard and processor, 4GB RAM and two power supplies.

Each box runs Debian 4 Linux operating in 64-bit mode and the JFS File System, a freeware journaling file system.

Backblaze Storage Pod
Though the 4U rack chassis is custom, the Backblaze Storage Pod is just commodity storage components inside.
The 67TB Backblaze Storage Pods are individually accessed using the HTTPS protocol through Apache Tomcat 5.5, an open source implementation of the Java Servlet and JavaServer Pages.

Obviously, Backblaze isn’t giving away its secret sauce—the company has created customized server software that drives all this technology, de-duplicating and segments data, encrypts and transfers it, and packages the data for recovery later. But according to Budman, the specification Backblaze has released enables anyone to create a 67TB storage system they can use for their own purposes.

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