“The problem with using AWS is that as every customer scales it becomes too complex and too expensive for them.”
That’s the view of Ahin Thomas, marketing chief at Backblaze, which offers cloud storage at a fraction of the costs charged by AWS and which has announced it will migrate customer data to its cloud free-of-charge.
The Backblaze view is that there’s no doubt AWS and companies like it have made a massive contribution to IT as we currently know it, with cloud operations becoming the norm and all sorts of knock-on effects on how we do business. But at the same time the tariffs of the big three providers are incredibly complex and can lead to cloud storage costs spiralling out of control.
It’s this area of difficulty that a relative minnow like Backblaze seeks to exploit as it offers free migration to its services.
“Lots of people on AWS are not able to predict their bill and face increasing costs to keep things running,” said Thomas. “Predictability is what businesses need but AWS – and the ‘cloud oligarchy’, as we call them – base their service charges on units and time management most humanoids don’t understand without complex calculations and advanced degrees.”
Instead, Backblaze claims its price list only runs to one line and offers cloud storage at 0.5 cents per GB per month. That’s a quarter of what S3 charges, said Thomas.
Download charges are cheaper too with Backblaze, at 1c per GB, which it says compares to around 9c per GB from the big three.
Backblaze’s storage infrastructure is housed at two sites, in the US (west coast) and in Europe (Amsterdam). It storage infrastructure consists of in-house built so-called Storage Pods, which provide object storage on an open source hardware platform.
It has made a big deal out of its Storage Pods, which are 4U 45-drive nodes that it originally built for less than $10,000 and which it since open sourced.
Storage Pods are all HDD – Backblaze publicises its HDD failure rates – with no flash and data protection via erasure coding in which data is sharded across 20 HDDs of which only 17 need to be present to recover data.
The company claims “hundreds of thousands” of customers in 160 countries with more than 1 exabyte stored. With only two datacentre regions globally Thomas admitted that, for example, “latency between Australia and Sacramento is not ideal.” But he said, the company helps mitigate this through alliances with local partners such as content delivery networks and compute providers.
Thomas said Backblaze’s biggest verticals and use cases are topped by media & entertainment, server and virtual server backup and genomics.
The company has also announced general availability of its API which allows customers to point data at Backblaze’s cloud and retain it in S3 format.
Regarding the offer to transfer data from AWS or other services free-of-charge, Backblaze will undertake to move data as long as the volume is more than 50TB and new customers commit to storing it with the company for 12 months.