The Storage Effect

All Things Storage The Storage Effect

Enterprise drives are overrated & over-priced…

 

Enterprise hard drives are over-rated and over-priced (for one customer at least).

“Are enterprise drives worth the cost? From a pure reliability perspective, the data we have says the answer is clear: No,” Backblaze distinguished engineer Brian Beach said Wednesday.  This according to a CNET article by .

Backblaze’s study and findings are very impressive. I suggest everyone read Brian’s blog titled “Enterprise Drives: Fact or Fiction?” It’s well worth the time and was very eye opening for me, and I’m an enterprise hard drive guy.

I think the other story here is a testament to Backblaze’s system design.  The fact that they can get enterprise-grade reliability using desktop-grade hard drives, for one, is a tip of the hat to desktop class drive design, but more so to Backblaze’s engineering prowess and ingenuity (the whole back story on how Backblaze managed the hard drive shortage as a result of “the flood” is another great read).

When it comes to using desktop-class drives in an enterprise environment, a number of stars have to be aligned for it to work.  In the case of Backblaze, their system design, their application workload, software, environment, and more seem to be in perfect harmony for them to pull this off, and that is a rarity.  For every enterprise customer that can make desktop drives work in their environment, there are dozens that have tried and failed, and have gone back to the comparable enterprise-class drive.  That is what makes Backblaze’s story and study so unique, and kudos well deserved.

All of the applause aside, I feel compelled to make one clarification when it comes to loosely using the term “enterprise drives.”  In the case of Backblaze, the comparison is between desktop drives and one class of enterprise hard drive - the 7,200 RPM “nearline” class.  Yes, these drives are the closest in comparison specification-wise to the traditional desktop or client 3.5-inch drives on the market.  But, let’s be careful and not assume that desktop or client drives can replace all enterprise drives in all enterprise applications.

Certain applications require higher levels of performance, reliability, endurance and data integrity that even a nearline class enterprise drive cannot come close to delivering, much less a desktop drive.  Such drives are commonly referred to as mission critical drives, and typically spin at 10,000 or 15,000 RPM and have for the last decade plus, defined what is enterprise-class.  The same can be said for solid-state drives (SSDs) which many believe are displacing 15K enterprise drives in the enterprise space.  There are also real differences between client and enterprise-class SSDs for mission critical applications, but that is another argument for another time.

For now, let’s just appreciate the fact that Backblaze is able to do something that many others have not been able to pull off.  Our hat is off to Brian and the team at Backblaze.

 

3 Comments

  • [...] only been installed for two years.  There’s also an interesting point raised by Seagate on their blog that Backblaze created the “perfect storm” with their use case and physical mounting.  This [...]

  • Mark there is another aspect to this story which is in your post however lets state the obvious.

    Some of todays workstation class drives are yesterdays enterprise class drives, some of us remember back in the 90′s when the Barracuda at 7.2K was the top of the line enterprise HDD that improved over time and generations. Hence you could say the the workstation class drives which is where the Barracudas have been found past few years is enterprise class drives.

    However as you point out, there are just a few apples to oranges comparisons with the lose term of enterprise class drives vs. workstation, after all as mentioned, there are the high performance enterprise class drives, then there are the high-capacity high models, not to mention the specialized variants for NAS, Cloud, Video, DVR, big data, little data, very big fast data among others…

    Cheers gs

  • [...] only been installed for two years.  There’s also an interesting point raised by Seagate on its blog, saying that Backblaze created the “perfect storm” with its use case and physical mounting. [...]

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared.

* Required fields

* Seagate will review all blog submissions and determine, in its sole discretion, whether such submissions will be posted for broader viewing. No blog comment will be considered for posting if deemed potentially damaging to Seagate's reputation or insufficiently aligned with the relevant blog topic. Without in any way limiting the foregoing, no submissions will be posted that contain: confidential company information; profanity; racial slurs; gratuitous references to sex, substance use, or violence; or statements that are in any way contrary to the letter or spirit of Seagate's Code of Business Conduct and Ethics.