Canadian storage vendor 45Drives to host first annual Storage Summit in Sydney N.S.

The event, which is being held from August 24-26 in and around Sydney, the largest town on Cape Breton Island, will bring together storage thought leaders, with a heavy emphasis on the YouTube world, and is open to the public.

Doug Milburn, Co-founder and President, 45 Drives

45Drives, a successful storage vendor based in Sydney Nova Scotia, which makes what it terms on-premise data storage for New Enterprise, is announcing their first annual Storage Summit 2023, to get their message out to a broader audience. It is being held August 24-26 in and around Sydney, which is on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.

45Drives is a continuation of work that the founders had originally done on a company named Protocase, which makes enclosures.

“45Drives grew out of work that Protocase did, in particular its reliance on hardware but with a lot of software for mass customization,” said Doug Milburn, the co-founder and President of 45Drives. “With Protocase, we had a customer, BackBlaze, and we sold the metal from Protocase with the BackBlaze storage pods. That was when we first took on the assembly side of manufacturing, and it started around 2008. In 2013, we formed 45Drives and decided we would marry the BackBlaze storage pod with the reliability and speed of a modern architecture, and we used Netflix for the direct wiring. We were hardware only at the start, but we saw a pattern in distributed storage with Linux CFS and Ceph, and we thought we could develop into what we termed a new enterprise vendor.”

Milburn explained the concept of new enterprise vendors.

“They differentiate with legacy enterprise, which are highly proprietary and very closed ecosystems,” he said. “Legacy enterprise is capable, reliable and mission- critical – but the reliability came from being closed. It served the customer well 20 years ago. Now open source has come underneath the proprietary models. We put open source software and open platform hardware together, and believe we are fairly unique.”

“In the early days of proprietary systems, being locked down served the customer well,” said Mitch Hall, Chief Architect at 45Drives. “Now it serves the vendor better.”

Milburn said that they have been successful in a very competitive storage industry because it was a mature market that needed reinvention.

“We rethought the business from the ground up,” he stated. “We combine enterprise level services with well focused hardware products and being able to sell people a complete solution. So we are able to offer enterprise solutions at a price well under legacy enterprise.”

Their target market is mission-critical environments, where if the storage shuts down, the business shuts down.

“We are in some big organizations, including government,” Milburn indicated. “We have references for credibility in the government world. Municipalities are a real strength of ours, especially police departments. We solve their server zoo problem where infrastructure hasn’t grown and there are old servers of all types. We cure the problem by selling them general full service clustering with high availability, and they migrate data to it. We are also strong in the federal government, including the three letter organizations like CDC in security and law enforcement. The video industry is another strength, particularly post-production video, and surveillance.”

45Drives has a hybrid business model.

“We are pushing 50% through channels, both MSP and reseller,” Milburn said. “It is a mixed bag of who we deal with.”

The decision to hold the first of what 45Drives expects will be an annual Storage Summit was motivated by a desire to take a more active role in thought leadership in the storage industry.

“We have grown very organically,” Milburn said. “We are privately owned, and have been plugging away and grown on word of mouth. We wanted to move out a little more broadly, and we thought that a good way to do bring together some bright people, including ones that we know from the YouTube world.” These include Techno Tim Stewart, Tom Lawrence of Lawrence Systems, Wendell Wilson of Level 1 Techs, Jeff Geerling – aka Red Shirt Jeff –  who has over 532,000 YouTube subscribers, and the newly announced Jeff Soleim of Craft Computing.

“We will bring them all together in a visiting speaker university format which includes a livestream,” Milburn stated. “We want to  talk about what moves the needle in storage today, and we think ourselves that we are moving the needle with clustering.

“We are thrilled to bring together these tech visionaries under one roof – or rather, under the open skies of Cape Breton Island,”” Milburn stressed. “Storage Summit 2023 is not just a conference; it’s a celebration of knowledge-sharing and a platform to propel the future of data storage into uncharted territories.”

On the second day, on Friday, August 25th, from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m Atlantic time, the summit will open its doors to local tech enthusiasts, open source devotees, and fans of the featured YouTube creators. Attendees will have the unique opportunity to meet, greet, and engage with their favorite creators and ask questions. The following day, Saturday, August 26th, a sailing excursion on the Bras d’Or Lakes is planned, where the core team and creators will be aboard the sailboat, discussing the highlights of the event and future data storage trends. This will also be livestreamed on the creators’ YouTube channels.