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Backblaze B2 update adds more S3 features

The latest version of Backblaze's B2 cloud storage adds better security features and S3-compatible integrations ahead of a partner API rollout later this year.

Backblaze's latest software update for its B2 cloud storage service integrates more AWS S3-compatible features -- particularly ransomware protections -- while remaining competitive on cost with major cloud providers.

The company's focus for the biannual refresh of its flagship enterprise-grade object storage aims to increase the parity of the service with Amazon's own premium S3 offerings, said Nilay Patel, vice president of sales. The update will also lay the groundwork for Backblaze's own partner API release later this year, according to Patel.

"We've seen a shift of customers using our platform to build their applications," he said. "We're expanding the use cases -- both backup and software as a service and other ones -- [that] small and medium enterprises need."

Backblaze started in 2007 as a consumer-grade cloud backup service. The company launched its business-oriented B2 product in 2015 and has maintained a lone pricing tier of $.005 per gigabyte for storage. Amazon Web Services, for comparison, offers S3 storage starting at $.023 per gigabyte for the first 50 TB per month, with the price dropping for larger amounts.

"A key focus for the company from the very beginning was to make all our products very easy to use," Patel said. "It was very important for us to have that simplistic pricing."

Backblaze, unlike the globe-spanning AWS, currently operates four data centers across the western United States and in Europe. In the name of transparency, the company publishes its hard drive failure information each business quarter.

One new feature included in this update is integration with S3 object lock for any Backblaze B2 customer. The feature prevents objects from being deleted or overwritten for a set amount of time, or indefinitely.

"It's really made to stop ransomware and some human error as well," Patel said.

Other features touted in the new update include general network enhancements to increase speed and availability, as well as integration into HashiCorp's Terraform infrastructure configuration tool through Backblaze's partner program.

Secondary backup provider

Backblaze customer Continuity Centers, a managed disaster recovery and continuity service, has made significant use of the new object lock feature before its general rollout.

Continuity Center CEO Gregory Tellone said his company selected B2 for its secondary backups at the suggestion of the two companies' mutual business partner, Veeam Software.

Tellone said he signed up for Backblaze storage in October 2020 after learning from Veeam about the forthcoming S3 immutability and object lock. Veeam similarly provides its own form of object lock which, alongside the Backblaze integration, allows Continuity Center to double up the protection of its clients' data.

"That's the No. 1 reason we picked Backblaze," Tellone said, adding that the cost of Backblaze also helped in making the decision.

"The No. 2 reason was the price," he added. "It was just a real easy sell. This is our single focus for our customers. It saves us every day, knowing someone can't delete our backups."

That's what locked me into them mentally. I was able to get other geeks on the phone.
Gregory TelloneCEO, Continuity Center

Tellone said Backblaze's technical documentation for its object lock implementation was slightly more complicated than other services. He praised the Backblaze support team members for their willingness to hear his concerns and work with him to improve the implementation.

"That's what locked me into them mentally. I was able to get other geeks on the phone," he said.

Raj Bala, a research director at Gartner, said those "technical chops" praised by Tellone are what has made Backblaze a popular choice since 2007.

"They're highly valued," Bala said. "They're not viewed as a fly-by-night operation."

Bala said the new features in the update point to Backblaze looking to expand into more enterprise storage operations, where he described the company's presence as "nascent."

S3 features such as object lock are not considered "meat and potatoes" needs for smaller operations, he added, but are signs the company is looking to expand beyond its usual client base of small and medium-sized businesses.

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