Backblaze gives away cloud storage designs

Chris Caceres · September 1, 2009 · Short URL: an attempt to spur some innovation and disrupt the current cloud storage industry


Backblaze, an online storage service, has taken the idea of 'open source' a step further this morning, by giving away its cloud storage hardware design.

A little background info on Backblaze, the company was founded in 2007 in response to a growing need for online storage solutions.  Gleb Budman, CEO and co-founder of Backblaze told me it was a response to a question he heard all too often when asking people about what they were doing for back-up, the answer being, as Budman put it, "a sheepish look - I'm really not doing anything right now, but I will, I should, I'm going to."

Skip to today, Backblaze is running a business that offers unlimited backup storage for $5 dollars/computer per month, and says it is growing very rapidly, although no numbers were shared.  At the same time, Backblaze has been a successful business without the help of any VC's.  Budman told me the secret to its success is the technology it's sharing with the world today, how to build a Petabye cluster for $117,000.

If you take a look at the graph, you can clearly see the difference in the cost of each Petabyte based on which company is providing it.  So by Backblaze releasing these designs, it's definitely trying to cause some disruption among the other storage giants - like EMC, Amazon, and Sun - which offer the same amount of space for phenomenally larger prices.  

So why is a company like Backblaze giving out these specs and potentially causing harm to its own business- isn't it giving out a lot to its competitors?  Budman explained, "We are, but the way we look at it is, currently 94% of the market does nothing for any kind of backup at all, and so what we compete with is just general apathy and not individual copmanies.  So if we can do something which spurs innovation in the area of inexpensive storage that will help the market overall, there will be a lot more innovation that will happen and the market as a whole will grow."

Budman added he would be excited to actually see a company pickup the design and improve on it, even sell it back to the market, adding, "we may very well buy those systems, and if they share their ideas on how to put the systems back into the ecosystem, we may very well take those ideas and improve on our systems."

So the move for Backblaze is sort of a postive gamble, in the hopes of spurring a sort of open source revolution in cloud storage.  

The actual 67 Terabyte Backblaze Pod, which is a single building block to the Petabyte cluster, can be made for $7,867 dollars based on Backblaze's design specs, but the company is not planning on selling these, I asked Budman who shared, "we've had various people approach us about buying the Backblaze Pod, but we are not a hardware sales company, we're just publishing the design."

Interestingly, Backblaze hasn't set up a community page for future builders of these storage pods, like other open source projects have in the past.  Budman told me he, "believes in grassroots communities, there's lots of tools out there to share ideas.  If it feels like users need more of a gathering spot, then we'll set one up."  
Backblaze competes with Carbonite and Mozy, two other similarly priced cloud backup solutions on the web.

Here's a 3D animation of the Backblaze 67 Terabyte Storage Pod.

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