New kids on the Blox

New kids on the Blox

Summary: A new scale out storage company has come out of stealth mode this morning. Exablox is announcing advanced, low-cost, scale out storage that is optimized for small and medium businesses.

TOPICS: Storage, Cloud, SMBs

Think of it as Drobo for the business guy. Or, for you enterprise IT types, Isilon for the department.


The OneBlox system supports file data accessed through either NFS or SMB. Each OneBlox 2U appliance has 8 drive bays for a current max capacity of 32TB.

Thanks to cloud-based management, a naïve user can get a new share up in less than five minutes. Adding new nodes is even simpler: they auto-discover each other when they are on the same subnet.

It will take longer to unpack the box than to start using the storage.

Cool technology

While it looks like standard NAS file storage under the covers, it is a much more modern design. The system breaks files into hashed 32K objects to ensure data integrity.

The index that keeps track of these objects is kept on a fast SSD. The objects are triple replicated across other nodes to ensure data availability.

The system uses a consistent hashing algorithm to minimize internode communication, a problem that limits the scalability of some older clustered storage designs. The interconnect is gigabit Ethernet with trunking of up to four links.

All objects are AES 256 encrypted for security at the rest of and across the network. The OneSystem cloud management is designed for non-techies and makes it simple to configure shares or set up regular snapshot copies.


But all the technical goodness in the world won't attract customers unless it is fairly priced. Unlike enterprise clustered storage, which typically goes for $3-$5 per gigabyte, the Exablox products are $.30-$.50 per gigabyte.

This is the kind of pricing needed to compete with Amazon Web Services and other cloud-based storage. Why go to the cloud when local is cheaper and faster?

The Storage Bits take

Traditional RAID systems — where all disks are the same size and rebuilds take forever — are dead. There are better options and Exablox looks to have one of them. 

Storage is so important that it needs to be as easy and reliable as a book on a shelf. Exablox is a step in that direction. Let's hope the reality (they ship in June) matches the promise.

Comments welcome, of course.  

Topics: Storage, Cloud, SMBs

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  • Anyone can produce the hardware configurations needed to accomplish this.

    The real issue will be longer-term reliability, and of course, support, and how quickly they can scale out the support. I've seen too many whiz-bang startups sell their gear to a company, and then sub out the support to the cheapest outfit available, provide the techs with little meaningful training, and rely totally on telephone support assistance the the techs, who are basically nothing more than eyes, ears, and hands. After a while, people point to their box and ask when it can be removed, so they can re-use the floor space for something they can actually get what they paid for. The factor of ten cost discount at the seller end winds up a wash on the user end if the support isn't there. Been there. Done that.
    • Exablox channel strategy

      Exablox is intending to offer their products through VARs and integrators, because at their price levels you can't afford a direct sales force. Their cloud-based management makes it easy and profitable for resellers to remotely manage the storage.

      So Exablox won't be selling the gear to the company and then, in your words, subbing out support to the cheapest outfit. Resellers that small and medium businesses already have relationships with will sell the gear and then support it, which is the only way to profitably reach the SMB market.
      R Harris
      • VARs no silver bullet.

        think you are giving way to much credit to the channel (VAR or not) there Robin. The best of VARs, and we have some of the very best, support many products and are hard pressed at times to support those fully. Customers trusting their data to a new solution tend to want a direct relationship even if the transaction is done through a VAR. Looking into the eyes of your supplier is key to many for building trust. Understanding their workflow also increasingly important where the only differentiator is $/TB. Ramping up support globally key to growing a storage business. Our whizz bang startup took time to grow and is prospering by taking each region at a time and building relationships. I am sure Exablox will do very well in the territories they fully support, very best of luck to them!
        • VAR support

          Nick, I have over 30 years experience dealing with VARs and OEMs and couldn't agree more. Unrelenting margin pressure has hollowed out channel technical expertise.

          That's why the vendors who are successful in the channel AND satisfy customers make their products very easy to support and give their resellers a profit motive. Your go-slow approach is one way. Building dirt-easy to support products is another.

          R Harris