Build an 180TB storage array for $1,943*

(*plus drives). The guys who gave the world an open source storage array for $7,348 are back with an improved v3.0: higher capacity; better engineering; faster CPU and - when drive prices drop - cheaper too!

Backblaze is offering an improved open source storage array: the Storage Pod 3.0. And just like the last one, you can build it yourself.

What's new? There's a long list of improvements, including:

  • 180TB raw capacity. 45 4TB will do that, but you might save money with 3TB drives today.
  • Better vibration control. Drives are locked down, reducing retries and improving reliability.
  • New mobo. Faster CPU and PCIe raise the performance bar.
  • RAID1 boot drive option. Ensures you can boot the pod.
  • Better cooling. End the heartbreak of data melt.
  • Lower price. The chassis parts - not including drives - cost 1.9% less than the old version.

Lessons learned. The Backblaze blog post goes into great detail about what they've learned from prior versions. Nothing that hardware engineers don't already know, but may be news to to the DIY crowd: watch firmware versions; stick to the design; be careful about +5v power; don't mix components.

Backblaze has over 450 Storage Pods in use, and there are hundreds at other sites. They aren't designed for heavy duty database transaction processing, nor do they have much redundancy, so RAIDing or mirrroring across Pods is important.

Drive prices. The 2011 Thai floods knocked out about a quarter of the industry's production capacity, driving prices sky-high as vendors competed for the available supply. Your best budget bet is often to buy USB drives, toss the case, and use the drive, a strategy Backblaze used during the worst of the drive crisis.

The good news: I'm seeing more evidence of competition for consumer dollars and expect to see significant price drops over the next 2-3 months. On a per GB basis we are already back to where we were in October 2011, but expect to see  3¢/GB soon.

The Storage Bits take. If you need hundreds of TB of bulk storage, the Storage Pod 3.0 is the cheapest game in town. Yes, it won't be as bulletproof as an array costing 10x, but if you know how to configure them you can have highly reliable storage for a fraction of the cost of most large arrays.

Comments welcome, of course. What would you use 180TB for?