Now that we're all finished talking common sense, let's start getting a little crazy once again in the grand tradition of the Donation Coder forum.
I mentioned earlier I didn't feel it made sense to custom build a server unless
you had a specific goal or need in mind.
Here's a blog post by Backblaze
(an online storage service provider) who did have a unique need for a very high capacity, high density storage server that was reliable and extremely inexpensive to build. What they came up with was not only unique - they released the full design specs and a detailed parts list so others could build their own. It uses off-the-shelf components except for a custom designed rack case. It packs forty-five(!) 1.5
hard drives for a total of 67.5
of total drive space. And it costs about $8000 in unit quantities including their custom designed case.
Here's the little monster, minus its 'skin,' with five drives installed - and another 40 to go!
While it would be patently insane to exactly duplicate this box for personal use, it would be relatively easy to go with a subset since the bulk of the cost is tied up in the hard drives. If you take the drives and the custom rack case out of the bill of materials (and remove some of the parts needed to handle all 45 drives) the cost drops below $1500
. Pretty amazing.
Here's a video discussing the company's business model and it's server design. Interesting to watch both from a business and technical perspective.
A blog post with a cost analysis and full details on the design and construction of this server (with parts list) can be found here
Here's a couple of illustrations taken from the blog to whet your appetite. Click to enlarge.Building a home server. Please help, DC! Building a home server. Please help, DC!
A couple of points:
Hardware is only part of the equation when building a server. Backblaze has done the hardware spec and component matching. Which is a major time saver for any who wish to follow in their footsteps. But note that this system is also designed to run a customized version of Linux and in-house software specifically set up for Backblaze's own requirements. And they are not providing copies.
Building a cloud includes not only deploying a large quantity of hardware, but, critically, deploying software to manage it. At Backblaze we have developed software that de-duplicates and chops data into blocks; encrypts and transfers it for backup; reassembles, decrypts, re-duplicates, and packages the data for recovery; and monitors and manages the entire cloud storage system. This process is proprietary technology that we have developed over the years.
You may have your own system for this process and incorporate the Backblaze Storage Pod design, or you may simply seek inexpensive storage that won’t be deployed as part of a cloud. In either case, you’re free to use the storage pod design above. If you do, we would appreciate credit at Backblaze and welcome any insights, though this isn’t a requirement. Please note that because we’re not selling the design or the storage pods themselves, we provide no support nor warranties.
If you were planning a Windows Server deployment, you'd still want to check Microsoft's HCL to be sure there were no known problems with components. I'm guessing some of these components (like the port multiplier backplanes and a few of the cards) will not be found on the 'official' hardware list. Which is not to say they won't work. It's just you may have driver or other issues if you use them. The only way to be sure would be to buy them and test them thoroughly before you commit your data if they weren't on the HCL.
But anyway, there you have it: 68
of storage platform for only $8K.
Like I said earlier - pretty amazing.