First, let me give you some background...
Over the last 5 years I've been working on making an Extreme Media Server. What frankly started out as a competition between me and another tech at PC Perfect has ended up where all these things end up - one person going over the top and pushing beyond any level of sanity. I'm happy to report that someone is me!
The first solution was simple enough, a basic PC with a few hard drives hanging off it. Definitely NOT EXTREME, very standard and, if I may say so, really really really boring!
The second solution was a small rolling rack of Super Micro 3U cases. A nice solution no doubt, but what I call an "Uncle Sam Solution". You know - one you'd come up with if you have unlimited funds and don't care about energy usage, cooling, etc. - essentially solving the problem with money.
That brings us up to this year, when I came across a great article from BackBlaze talking about how they build their storage pods for their online backup service (http://blog.backblaze.com/2009/09/01/petabytes-on-a-budget-how-to-build-cheap-cloud-storage/). Wow - Wow - Wow! Someone had come up with a way to store 45 Drives in one reasonably sized case and had done it on a budget. With a little tweaking, I knew I could take their core design and end up with awesome Media Server. Sadly, my wife recognized the look in my eyes and feared the boxes she knew would be coming soon as well!
Before we continue, I want to take a moment and thank the great folks over at BackBlaze. They openingly published their design and have been great in answering what seems like a million of my questions and providing me invaluable guidance in tracking down parts to make this happen. Without their generosity, time, and openness, this frankly wouldn't have been possible.
For those of you who are long time readers of techdirt.com, you'll be familar with concept of sharing information and building a business model around it. It is very rare these days to find a company like BackBlaze that is so open with their designs/intellectual property. Most businesses protect and horde this type of information. I have the upmost respect for the folks running BackBlaze - they're definitely forward thinkers on top of their game!
Next up, the game plan/design criteria...