Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Zettabyte?

The Zettabyte Storage zBox (via CrunchGear and Engadget) is a novel idea. Software like Jungle Disk makes access to Amazon S3 fairly transparent, but this is the first time I've seen a piece of hardware that does the same thing.

CREDIT: Zettabyte Storage
The new zBox from Zettabyte Storage

The real pain with remote storage is the slow speed, it looks like these guys have solved that, at a price.

When you buy a zBox you're not really buying the hardware you're renting it. What you actually take out is a service plan based on how many GB you need to backup, and what you get for your money is a local NAS device which also acts as a staging area for the remote backup to Amazon's S3 service. Because the offsite mirror of your backup is done hourly by the NAS device, rather than your own computer, the slow speed of remote storage presumably isn't really going to be a problem. Especially since if you want access to your files you can pull them from the local copy on the NAS, rather than having to wait for, and with S3 pay for, access to your remote storage. However since you now have two additional copies of your data, one on the local NAS, and one remote on the S3 service, you've got decent redundancy.

An interesting feature is that the NAS box they provide with the service is self-monitoring, and if the device notices the beginnings of a hardware failure, it will notify Zettabyte Storage, who will send you a replacement unit. With a bit of luck the replacement unit might even arrive before your old one fails.

Of course all this comes at quite a hefty price, around US$49 (plus tax?) per month for 32GB of redundant storage. However the price, obviously, will vary with how much you want to store. Their top of the line offering being 740GB for US$299 (plus tax?) per month.

As an aside, one thing I really, really, hate about the Zettabyte site is that they're obviously purists, they're stating their storage in binary GB, rather than the artificially inflated size used by hard-disk manufacturers. That battle was lost a long time ago, and what their doing is only going to confuse people. It certainly confused me, I had to pull up a calculator to figure out exactly what they were talking about.

However for a certain market segment, this is a killer device, and it provides a unique service. I'm just not sure how big that market segment is considering the price of the service plans?