How to make your backblaze pod be powered by the cloud!

We at Oxygen Cloud are always looking at ways to make the cloud more personal. A while back we stumbled over the Backblaze blog talking about “How to build cheap cloud storage” and it gave us an idea! What if we get one, but turn it up the volume to 11 by integrating the Backblaze into the Oxygen Cloud?

This is what 55TB looks like!

We got our Backblaze Pod from Proto Case but building the system is only half the battle. The real magic is configuring all the software that powers it, and the storage space. Speaking of storage, we at Oxygen Cloud just happened to have over 50 Western Digital 1.5TB Green drives on hand.

Installing all the Hard Drives in the Backblaze. We had everyone in the company sign a drive and we also started taking bets on who’s drive would die first. This is the 1st time we did it, Aaron Follette pointed out that we forgot to put the rubber bands around the drive to protect vibration.

Software Configuration:

The backblaze from Proto Case ships with Debian 5 Squeeze and all the required drives for the system to start. Its up the user to supply the drives and handle configuration. With those 50+ WD Green drives, we decided to go with 3 Raid 6 array using mdadm. With this, we used LVM on top to create one uber-drive.

One hurdle we hit was trying to format this new partition. We’d originally chosen JFS for the filesystem but this caused enough issues that we decided to go with ext4 instead. This presented its’ own problem: ext4 supports up to 1EiB, but the distro copy of e2fsprogs only supported 16TB. Building from source using the 64bit flag solved this.

Unsurprisingly, formatting 50TB is not a fast process. Be prepared to wait a long time.

Bryan Pham, playing Chess as he waits for 55TB to format.

After formatting comes the really hard choice: What do we do with 55TB of storage? NFS? SAMBA? So 90s! What if you’re out with your iPhone, iPad, or Android device and need your data? That’s where Oxygen Storage Connector (codename: Morpheus) comes in!

What is Oxygen Storage Connector? Its software you can deploy on any Windows or Linux machine (OS X coming soon!) that will convert unused storage on a NAS/File Server into storage you can use with Oxygen Cloud so you can access your data anywhere in the world.

This also means your data is encrypted end to end in both transit from your NAS to your device but also at rest on your device and NAS. You can share spaces from your Oxygen Storage Connector with family, friends, co-workers, anyone you choose around the world and they — and only they — will have the ability to see spaces you share with them. Now we at Oxygen Cloud can store all of our data in-house yet leverage the cloud for all of our Metadata allowing us to access it anywhere in the world! With a team that includes members in Pakistan, Indonesia, Hong Kong and the US it’s important they have the ability to put their files on the backblaze from anywhere and one way we allow this is via our Oxygen Tunnel Gateways.

Oxygen Tunnel gateways are servers we’ve deployed that allow you to access your Oxygen Storage Connector behind your firewall when you are outside your firewall, without having to punch any holes or change your configuration.

Oxygen Tunnel Gateways are the magic that allows Oxygen Storage Connector users to access their storage without having to reconfigure their router or firewall. Inside, outside, it doesn’t matter — it just works! How? Magic! It’s also smart enough that when you’re on the local network it will connect directly, allowing the fastest transfer speeds possible.

If you want to learn more about Oxygen Storage Connector and get the software yourself, check out Oxygen Cloud.

EDIT: Our team has created a video montage of us building, configuration and using the backblaze pod. YouTube Preview Image

10 thoughts on “How to make your backblaze pod be powered by the cloud!”

  1. Hi there, great post, can I ask if you could package the Oxygen storage connector into a distro to sit on top of the Blazepod – in essence creating a OC appliance?

    What are the Oxygen tunnel gateways are these the same as the storage connectors?

  2. Hi Keith,

    We are looking at releasing a Linux build of our client in the next two weeks, so any user can install Oxygen Storage Connector on their Linux NAS to create an OC appliance.

    The Oxygen Tunnel gateway is a service we provide that allows users access to their Oxygen Storage Connector without configuration of their Firewall from anywhere. Since this is part of our infrastructure I cant get too much in to details about its technical working but if you want to learn more I suggest you drop a ticket at our support desk at oxygencloud.com/support

  3. @ray,

    You are correct they are consumer drive, but that is part of the beauty of the setup. Using cheap drives to get you very cheap cost per GB and you reduce data lost by setting up some fault tolerance. We had a few drives die but because of the raid setup we had no data lost and hotswap allows us to rebuild the raid.

  4. @paul, You can add more space as needed. You will need to rebuild the raid and increase the lvm partition. Just note if you plan to use it in production I recommend building it yourself using the spec Backblaze provide as the we got at Oxygen Cloud want not the best quality of hardware.

  5. thanks just so i understand, i wont loose data on already installed drives? i just ad to the “software RAID build?” and what if we want to have data embeded on the new disks before we ad them to the RAID? is this posible at all. we allready manufactured the case for $60 in South Africa and built the complete POD for $400 using intell i7CPU, 8gb RAM and a high spec PCB “overkill but worth the $” we will look at supplying these to the industry “export” once we have learnt the RAID build & done realtime testing

  6. @paul, I suggest you look in to mdadm, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mdadm, and lvm, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logical_Volume_Manager_(Linux) the two technology we used to build the raid the partitions. There is a lot of strategies you can use including hardware raid or just leaving each of the 3 raid array as individual “drives”. Mdadm allows you to add more drives without data lost (if done correctly), as for having data on the drives and adding them to the array afik its not possible.

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