Backblaze’s World Tour Of Europe

I spoke with Ahin Thomas at VMworld US last week about what Backblaze has been up to lately. The big news is that they’ve expanded data centre operations into Europe (Amsterdam specifically). Here’s a blog post from Backblaze talking about their new EU DC, and these three articles do a great job of explaining the process behind the DC selection.

So what does this mean exactly? If you’re not so keen on keeping your data in a US DC, you can create an account and start leveraging the EU region. There’s no facility to migrate existing data (at this stage), but if you have a lot of data you want to upload, you could use the B2 Fireball to get it in there.

 

Thoughts and Further Reading

When you think of Backblaze it’s likely that you think of their personal backup product, and the aforementioned hard drive stats and storage pod reference designs. So it might seem a little weird to see them giving briefings at a show like VMworld. But their B2 business is ramping up, and a lot of people involved in delivering VMware-based cloud services are looking at object storage as a way to do cost-effective storage at scale. There are also plenty of folks in the mid-market segment trying to find more cost effective ways to store older data and protect it without making huge investments in the traditional data protection offerings on the market.

It’s still early days in terms of some of the features on offer from Backblaze that can leverage multi-region capabilities, but the EU presence is a great first step in expanding their footprint and giving non-US customers the option to use resources that aren’t located on US soil. Sure, you’re still dealing with a US company, and you’re paying in US dollars, but at least you’ve got a little more choice in terms of where the data will be stored. I’ve been a Backblaze customer for my personal backups for some time, and I’m always happy to hear good news stories coming out of the company. I’m a big fan of the level of transparency they’ve historically shown, particularly when other vendors have chosen to present their solutions as magical black boxes. Sharing things like the storage pod design and hard drive statistics goes a long way to developing trust in Backblaze as the keeper of your stuff.

The business of using cloud storage for data protection and scalable file storage isn’t as simple as jamming a few rackmount boxes in a random DC, filling them with hard drives, charging $5 a month, and waiting for the money to roll in. There’s a lot more to it than that. You need to have a product that people want, you need to know how to deliver that product, and you need to be able to evolve as technology (and the market) evolves. I’m happy to see that Backblaze have moved into storage services with B2, and the move to the EU is another sign of that continuing evolution. I’m looking forward (with some amount of anticipation) to hearing what’s next with Backblaze.

If you’re thinking about taking up a subscription with Backblaze – you can use my link to sign up and I’ll get a free month and you will too.

Random Short Take #20

Here are some links to some random news items and other content that I recently found interesting. You might find them interesting too. Episode 20 – feels like it’s becoming a thing.

  • Scale Computing seems to be having a fair bit of success with their VDI solutions. Here’s a press release about what they did with Harlingen WaterWorks System.
  • I don’t read Corey Quinn’s articles enough, but I am glad I read this one. Regardless of what you think about the enforceability of non-compete agreements (and regardless of where you’re employed), these things have no place in the modern workforce.
  • If you’re getting along to VMworld US this year, I imagine there’s plenty in your schedule already. If you have the time – I recommend getting around to seeing what Cody and Pure Storage are up to. I find Cody to be a great presenter, and Pure have been doing some neat stuff lately.
  • Speaking of VMworld, this article from Tom about packing the little things for conferences in preparation for any eventuality was useful. And if you’re heading to VMworld, be sure to swing past the VMUG booth. There’s a bunch of VMUG stuff happening at VMworld – you can read more about that here.
  • I promise this is pretty much the last bit of news I’ll share regarding VMworld. Anthony from Veeam put up a post about their competition to win a pass to VMworld. If you’re on the fence about going, check it out now (as the competition closes on the 19th August).
  • It wouldn’t be a random short take without some mention of data protection. This article about tiering protection data from George Crump was bang on the money.
  • Backblaze published their quarterly roundup of hard drive stats – you can read more here.
  • This article from Paul on freelancing and side gigs was comprehensive and enlightening. If you’re thinking of taking on some extra work in the hopes of making it your full-time job, or just wanting to earn a little more pin money, it’s worthwhile reading this post.

Random Short Take #17

Here are some links to some random news items and other content that I recently found interesting. You might find them interesting too. Episode 17 – am I over-sharing? There’s so much I want you to know about.

  • I seem to always be including a link from the Backblaze blog. That’s mainly because they write about things I’m interested in. In this case, they’ve posted an article discussing the differences between availability and durability that I think is worth your time.
  • Speaking of interesting topics, Preston posted an article on NetWorker Pools with Data Domain that’s worth looking at if you’re into that kind of thing.
  • Maintaining the data protection theme, Alastair wrote an interesting article titled “The Best Automation Is One You Don’t Write” (you know, like the best IO is one you don’t need to do?) as part of his work with Cohesity. It’s a good article, and not just because he mentions my name in it.
  • I recently wanted to change the edition of Microsoft Office I was using on my MacBook Pro and couldn’t really work out how to do it. In the end, the answer is simple. Download a Microsoft utility to remove your Office licenses, and then fire up an Office product and it will prompt you to re-enter your information at that point.
  • This is an old article, but it answered my question about validating MD5 checksums on macOS.
  • Excelero have been doing some cool stuff with Imperial College London – you can read more about that here.
  • Oh hey, Flixster Video is closing down. I received this in my inbox recently: “[f]ollowing the announcement by UltraViolet that it will be discontinuing its service on July 31, 2019, we are writing to provide you notice that Flixster Video is planning to shut down its website, applications and operations on October 31, 2019”. It makes sense, obviously, given UltraViolet’s demise, but it still drives me nuts. The ephemeral nature of digital media is why I still have a house full of various sized discs with various kinds of media stored on them. I think the answer is to give yourself over to the streaming lifestyle, and understand that you’ll never “own” media like you used to think you did. But I can’t help but feel like people outside of the US are getting shafted in that scenario.
  • In keeping up with the “random” theme of these posts, it was only last week that I learned that “Television, the Drug of the Nation” from the very excellent album “Hypocrisy Is the Greatest Luxury” by The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy was originally released by Michael Franti and Rono Tse when they were members of The Beatnigs. If you’re unfamiliar with any of this I recommend you check them out.

Random Short Take #13

Here are a few links to some random news items and other content that I found interesting. You might find them interesting too. Let’s dive in to lucky number 13.

Random Short Take #12

Here are a few links to some random news items and other content that I found interesting. You might find it interesting too. Maybe.

  • I’ve been a fan of Backblaze for some time now, and I find their blog posts useful. This one, entitled “A Workflow Playbook for Migrating Your Media Assets to a MAM“, was of particular interest to me.
  • Speaking of Backblaze, this article on SSDs and reliability should prove useful, particularly if you’re new to the technology. And the salty comments from various readers are great too.
  • Zerto just announced the myZerto Labs Program as a way for “IT professionals to test, understand and experiment with the IT Resilience Platform using virtual infrastructure”. You can sign up here.
  • If you’re in the area, I’m speaking at the Sydney VMUG UserCon on Tuesday 19th March. I’ll be covering how to “Build Your Personal Brand by Starting and Maintaining a Blog”. It’s more about blogging than branding, but I’m hoping there’s enough to keep the punters engaged. Details here. If you can’t get along to the event, I’ll likely publish the deck on this site in the near future.
  • The nice people at Axellio had some success at the US Air Force Pitch Day recently. You can read more about that here.
  • UltraViolet is going away. This kind of thing is disheartening (and a big reason why I persist in buying physical copies of things still).
  • I’m heading to Dell Technologies World this year. Michael was on the TV recently, talking about the journey and looking ahead. You can see more here.

Random Short Take #10

Here are a few links to some random news items and other content that I found interesting. You might find it interesting too. Maybe. This will be the last one for this year. I hope you and yours have a safe and merry Christmas / holiday break.

  • Scale Computing have finally entered the Aussie market in partnership with Amnesium. You can read more about that here
  • Alastair is back in the classroom, teaching folks about AWS. He published a bunch of very useful notes from a recent class here.
  • The folks at Backblaze are running a “Refer-A-Friend” promotion. If you’re looking to become a new Backblaze customer and sign up with my referral code, you’ll get some free time on your account. And I will too! Hooray! I’ve waxed lyrical about Backblaze before, and I recommend it. The offer runs out on January 6th 2019, so get a move on.
  • Howard did a nice article on VVols that I recommend checking out.
  • GDPR has been a challenge (within and outside the EU), but I enjoyed Mark Browne‘s take on Cohesity’s GDPR compliance.
  • I’m quite a fan of the Netflix Tech Blog, and this article on the Netflix Media Database was a ripper.
  • From time to time I like to poke fun at my friends in the US for what seems like an excessive amount of shenanigans happening in that country, but there’s plenty of boneheaded stuff happening in Australia too. Read Preston’s article on the recently passed anti-encryption laws to get a feel for the heady heights of stupidity that we’ve been able to reach recently.

 

Moving From CrashPlan Back To BackBlaze

The Problem

I recently received an email from the CrashPlan for Home Team and have included some of the text below:

“Thank you for being a CrashPlan® for Home customer. We’re honored that you’ve trusted us to protect your data.

It’s because of this trust that we want you to know that we have shifted our business strategy to focus on the enterprise and small business segments. This means that over the next 14 months we will be exiting the consumer market and you must choose another option for data backup before your subscription expires. We are committed to providing you with an easy and efficient transition.”

You may or may not recall (or care) that I moved from Mozy to BackBlaze when Mozy changed their pricing scheme. I then moved to CrashPlan when a local (to Australia) contact offered me an evaluation of their seed service. Since then I’ve been pretty happy with CrashPlan, and had setup some peer to peer stuff with Mat as well.

 

Now What?

CrashPlan are offering existing customers a very smooth transition to their business plans. While the price is a little higher than before, it’s still very reasonable. And there’s a big discount on offer for the first twelve months, and a bunch of other options available. Plus, I wouldn’t have to re-seed my data, and I can access local support and resources.

 

The Siren’s Call

There are a whole lot of differnet cloud backup solutions you can access. They’re listed in this handy table here. Some of them are sync-only services, and some of them are fully-fledged offerings. I’ve been a fan of BackBlaze’s offering and technical transparency for a long time, and noticed they were pretty quick to put up a post showing off their wares. Their pricing is very reasonable, I’ve never had too many problems with the software, and they offer USB restores of data if required. The issue is that I have about 1TB of data to seed and on an ADSL connection it’s going to take for ages. BackBlaze’s don’t offer the ability to seed data in a similar fashion to CrashPlan, so I’ll be sucking it up and trickling the data up to BackBlaze while maintaining my account with CrashPlan for Home. I’ll get back to you in a few years and let you know how that’s gone. In the meantime, the kind folks at BackBlaze did send me this link to their FAQ on moving from CrashPlan to BackBlaze which may be useful.

 

Feelings

A few people on the Internet were a bit cranky about the news of this mild pivot / change of strategic focus from CrashPlan. I think that’s testament to CrashPlan’s quality product and competitive pricing. They’re still giving users a lot of notice about what’s happening, and offering a very accessible migration path. The business plan is still very affordable, and offers a lot of useful functionality. As Mozy discovered a few years ago, consumers are notoriously cheap, and it’s sometimes hard to pay the bills when the market is demanding ridiculously low prices for what are actually pretty important services. I have no insight into CrashPlan’s financials, and won’t pretend to understand the drive behind this. I could choose to move my account to their business plan and not have to re-seed my data again, but I’ve always had a soft spot for BackBlaze, so I’ll be moving back to them.

If you’re not backing up your data (at least locally, and ideally to more than one destination) than you should start doing that. There’s nothing worse than trying to put back the pieces of your digital life from scraps of social media scattered across the Internet. If you’ve already got things in hand – good for you. Talk to your friends about the problem too. It’s a problem that can impact anyone, at any time, and it’s something that not enough people are talking about openly. BackBlaze haven’t paid me any money to write this post, I just thought it was something people might be interested in, given the experiences I’ve had with various vendors over time.

OT – Mozy, Backblaze and my race to the bottom …

Welcome back. I know it’s been a while, so I thought I’d try something different and do more of a thinky thing about my personal use of cloud backup. Strap yourselves in, because I don’t usually give my opinion on things, so this might just get really wild. Or not.

[Disclaimer: Backblaze haven’t paid for nor asked for my opinion. And Mozy have done nothing particularly heinous either. This is just my experience and opinion. What works for me mightn’t work for you.]

I’m about 2GB away from backing up the last 30GB of my holiday photos from Europe. As such, it seems like a perfect time to announce to my three loyal readers that I’ve switched my home cloud backup product from MozyHome to Backblaze. I’ve been running MozyHome on my Mac since 2009, and was generally happy with the performance and the product. It did some weird things at times, but Mozy support were generally pretty helpful, particularly when I took to my blog to rant about them. This is a good example of their support staff going beyond the call of duty. I even felt okay about their price structure change, although I don’t think it was very well handled with existing customers. In the meantime, I’d been looking at various home-brew NAS solutions and came across the Backblaze storage pod stuff (version 2 and 3 designs are here too). I’m no fan of them hippy startups, but there was something about Backblaze that got me interested. Not that my perpetually tolerant family would really put up with me building a storage pod for home use, but I liked that I could access the plans if I wanted to. So I kept researching, and tried out the client. And looked at the price.

And there you have it, my personal race to the bottom. I am the reason we have so much crap stuff in the world. I am the consumer who wants fast and quality for cheap. And that’s what I get with Backblaze. And it’s what I had for a while with MozyHome. And I imagine (without any evidence to back it up) that I would have had it with MozyHome to this day if Decho weren’t swallowed up by EMC. But here’s the hilarious thing: I’m on an ADSL1 internet connection. And I get about 300Kbps upload. If I’m lucky. And if nothing else is happening between my house and the exchange. Let me just clarify that it takes quite some time to get 220GB “to the cloud” when you have that kind of connection. Hell, I had a 13Mbps/13Mbps synchronous connection at my hotel in Korea on my way back from Europe. So here’s where I get thinky. Firstly, major tech companies doing “cloud” backup aren’t necessarily thinking about suburbanites in Australia when they’re talking about what their products can do. And that’s okay, because they’re going to make a lot more money off the enterprise than they will off me. But am I in the minority? Is everyone else sitting on fat connections to the internet? Or are they just not pushing as much data up there? I mean, I haven’t even considered sending my home videos to the cloud yet. That’s another few hundred GB. My friend has access to the NBN – maybe I could take my computer to her house and just let it seed the data for a week (month?) or so? Maybe I wouldn’t have this problem if I didn’t have a family and an insatiable desire to keep every photo I ever took of my kids?

In any case, here’s my enhancement request for Backblaze. Let me send you a hard drive of my stuff to manually seed in your data centre. I’ll pay the shipping to the US. I’ll even fill out the stupid forms and show my ID. You can keep the drive. In the same way you offer a recovery service where I can order a hard drive of my data from you, let me do the reverse. Please. Pretty please. Because some of us don’t have fat pipes but we still have data we want to protect.

Okay, maybe it wasn’t as thinky as we’d all hoped. I should probably also point out that my race to the bottom is on price, not quality.