My goodness the guys at Backblaze have gotten people talking about storage value. This morning I heard from one customer of ours who likes the BackBlaze price points who asked if we could provide an enterprise service and support model for a system like the one they talk about in their blog. The answer is "yes we can", but whether it makes sense to a customer depends on how they value the risk and reward for each of the following topics.
Scalability -How a customer views the issue of expandability and the related islands of storage is important to how they determine how much they are willing to spend on putting their storage in one basket. The Backblaze type solution makes sense in certain places in a Hierarchical Storage Model, but how customers value storage accessibility is a question that is very hard to answer. There are certainly customers of ours that find this price point a viable solution.
Predictability - What is the MTBF of the BackBlaze solution? There are many components in their solution that are not hot swappable. This works in their specific environment, but our customers seem to want a bit more and so the price point goes up marginally for hot swap parts.
Affordability - Our customers want a long term solution that is affordable to acquire and inexpensive to maintain. We are known for our high availability service and support and the BackBlaze type of solution could fit very easily into our business model.
Reliability - Adapting a set of Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) components that are built for a specific solution can create a solution that meets the required reliability of the application. It is relatively easy to integrate a solution that meets a market need if it is defined very tightly.
As the leader in independent NetApp service and support, we recognize that there is interest in a solution like the BackBlaze product. But customer conversations that we have had today show that there is more interest in a storage model that has the price point of their product combined with a high availability service model.
We will be looking into this more over the next few weeks.