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Backblaze S3-compatible APIs set up cloud battle

Backblaze releases S3-compatible APIs for its B2 Cloud Storage. Several vendor partners joined the launch with integrations. Uses include backup and archiving.

With the launch of APIs compatible with Amazon S3, cloud backup and storage provider Backblaze is not only taking on AWS, but the entire "Big 3" of cloud storage vendors.

Through the Backblaze S3-compatible APIs, customers, resellers and developers who use anything that supports S3 can now point that data to Backblaze's B2 Cloud Storage, said Backblaze CEO Gleb Budman.

Budman cited market leaders Amazon, Microsoft and Google as top competition for B2. He said Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage is about one-fourth the cost of any of those vendors and downloads are about one-tenth their price. In addition, Backblaze signup takes a couple of minutes.

Gleb BudmanGleb Budman

The Backblaze S3-compatible APIs for B2 Cloud Storage are in public beta. Backblaze has not given a specific date yet for general availability, but expects it soon.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, companies have been forced into digital transformation and figuring out how to use off-site cloud storage and how to work remotely.

"B2 helps with all of that," Budman said.

Evolution of Backblaze leads to S3 compatibility

Backblaze, founded in 2007 and based in San Mateo, Calif., has more than an exabyte of data stored across all its products, which also include personal and business backup.

"We have been at this for a very long time," Budman said.

Backblaze started as a consumer cloud backup company but built B2 in 2015 to support customers' other storage needs. Its current backup-specific offerings are tailored to laptops and desktops. B2 is for more intensive backup needs, such as server and NAS backups, and storage capabilities including hosting files and building applications.

Previously, many customers, MSPs and resellers couldn't use B2 because of the API issue.

Before last week's launch, it took work for a developer working with an S3 API to be able to use B2 Cloud Storage. The developer could write new code to work with B2, Budman said. Now, though, that data can simply point to the new B2 location.

The S3 API has become the "de facto industry standard" for hybrid object storage, according to Steven Hill, senior analyst of applied infrastructure and storage technologies at 451 Research, part of S&P Global Market Intelligence. That makes S3 compatibility "table stakes for any modern object storage offering," Hill wrote in an email.

The massive adoption of the S3 object model across the industry has a lot to do with why it's become a de facto standard for most object storage companies.
Steven HillSenior analyst, 451 Research

"[Amazon was] first to market with a model for cloud-based object storage around 2006, and as it turns out, S3 is a pretty well-designed API," Hill wrote. "Being first never hurts, and the massive adoption of the S3 object model across the industry has a lot to do with why it's become a de facto standard for most object storage companies."

Object storage is flexible, cost-effective and "nearly infinitely scalable," according to Hill. It also supports the use of metadata.

"Object metadata can be customized to serve as criteria for automating data lifecycle management. [It also offers] insights into the contents of data to extend the usefulness of file-based data, by providing visibility into and contextualizing the contents of difficult to identify unstructured data," Hill wrote.

"This makes object storage an exceptionally useful model for the long-term management of all forms of data."

Potential uses for S3-compatible APIs

Uses for B2 are going to look similar with the Backblaze S3-compatible APIs, Budman said. Those include backup, archiving and syncing.

"But it expands the whole realm of products that can support that," Budman said.

About 15 partner companies use the Backblaze S3-compatible APIs, including IBM Aspera for data transfers and streaming, Veeam for backup and recovery, and Quantum for sharing digital content.

Budman said he thinks most customers who copy data to S3 and want to use Backblaze cloud storage will start putting new data in B2 instead of migrating all their old data to Backblaze.

Falcon's Creative Group, a visual effects and media design company based in Orlando, Fla., has been using B2 for three to four years, said Saham Ali, director of technology. The company has several hundred terabytes in B2 Cloud Storage. It can archive projects to B2 and free up high-speed storage.

"With the click of a button … we can bring data back like it never left," Ali said.

Falcon's Creative Group also uses MSP360 -- formerly CloudBerry -- to do nightly backups.

"It's not very efficient as there's not enough logic control on what gets backed up and what gets purged," Ali said. "So a project may balloon to several tens of terabytes, since we will have every version of every file, because of the additive nature of the nightly backup."

At the end of a project, the company decreases its size and archives the data, then can manually delete the nightly backups. Ali said the Backblaze S3-compatible APIs could help his company move away from that nightly backup practice and simplify the process.

"A user would save a file, and our custom file requester would kick off operations that not only would save the file on our local filer, but also copy the file to B2," Ali said. "And once we prune the project with our pipeline tools, it would automatically delete files from B2, and migrate it to another bucket."

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