Sunday, 26 September 2010

Terry Fox Run

I like the web site the Terry Fox Foundation has put together for their annual school run to raise funds for cancer research. It lets people donate on-line, of course. Much more interesting is that it lets kids collect and create their own content -- photos and videos -- and post them on their own page, along with a graph showing how close to reaching their fund-raising goal they are.

My son Marc got right into making videos for it. For the Foundation, it gets kids thinking and talking about Terry Fox and the importance of cancer research. For the kids, it gets them producing content for the web. The future belongs to those who produce content. (Those of us who produce the technology will be like the guys today who keep the mainframes running.)

Shameless commercial: You can contribute to cancer research by supporting Marc's run here.

Friday, 10 September 2010

The Cost of Storage: Reality Check

A friend pointed me at this awesome blog post from Backblaze, who sell cloud storage: Petabytes on a budget: How to build cheap cloud storage | Backblaze Blog. They build their own storage boxes based on a commodity motherboard running Linux, and standard open source software.

Backblaze gets a cost per gigabyte of under $0.12. Yes, 12 cents per GB. And that's per GB of RAID 6 storage. It's easy to find storage costing $12 or more per GB from the mainstream storage vendors -- two orders of magnitude more. The blog post also compares prices of storage. They show a price difference of up to 2,000 times!

I think there are a lot of areas of IT that a fundamentally broken. Storage is an area that is most obviously broken, and these price differences should make that obvious.

What I find really interesting is Backblaze's approach. They published their hardware design in the blog post. They've open-sourced their hardware. The supplier of their cabinet is already offering the cabinet as a product because they've had so much demand. People are buying and building these boxes, and I'm sure it won't be long before lots of open source software becomes available that provides storage solutions based on this hardware.

This gives hope. In ten years, perhaps, open source will do to storage what it's doing to CPU cycles and the operating system business -- get rid of the artificial cost imposed by proprietary vendors who hoard technology.