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Google Cloud Storage prices cut, Glacier cold storage competitor added

Google is revamping its Cloud Storage services to woo users and challenge AWS with price cuts, lifecycle management and cold storage with quicker retrieval times than Amazon Glacier.

Google is going back to price as a differentiator, as it recategorizes its cloud storage offerings and adds a new tier for cold storage in its latest bid to appeal to enterprise customers.

Google has repackaged its offerings into Regional and Multi-Regional tiers, as well as the new Coldline cold storage offering to complement its existing Nearline tier. In addition to the new classes, Google is undercutting Amazon Web Services (AWS) on storage pricing and adding automation for moving objects between tiers.

Last year, Google rolled out its first foray into cooler storage with Nearline. The service was seen as Google's closest competitor to Amazon Glacier, but with significant differences: Nearline costs more per gigabyte, for example, but it comes with a cheaper retrieval fee and is intended for data that is accessed more frequently.

Cold storage in the public cloud can be good for archival storage that is rarely accessed, but the downside to these services is the high cost of pulling data out. Google has priced Coldline storage at the same rate Amazon charges for its comparable Glacier service -- $0.007 per gigabyte, per month. The two providers charge differently for access to the data, however, with Google charging $0.05 per gigabyte for retrievals, compared with $0.05 per 1,000 retrieval or upload requests on Glacier.

Video sharing and streaming service Vimeo Inc. uses Multi-Regional, as well as Nearline, and it works with Fastly, a real-time content delivery network service and Google cloud partner, to provide sub-150 millisecond response times for customers.

Vimeo used Glacier, but moved to Nearline because of the time it took to get data out of the AWS offering. It's now exploring Coldline to fill that same role in some cases.

"We want to be cost-effective as long as we're not compromising performance," said Narendra Venkataraman, senior director of engineering at Vimeo, based in New York.

Coldline provides millisecond access to storage intended for long-term archiving accessed less than once a year for uses such as big data or multimedia content. Glacier, meanwhile, can take several hours to retrieve data.

Vimeo was an early adopter of AWS and still uses the platform, as well as its own data centers, but it's found some advantages to using Google Cloud Platform. The high number of end points across the globe addresses latency and provides faster mobile uploads for users, and the platform enables users to resume a file upload anytime, rather than having to do it all in one chunk like they do on AWS, Venkataraman said.

New Google Cloud Storage tiers cheaper than AWS

The Multi-Regional tier is targeted at workloads that require high availability and geo-redundancy. It's priced at $0.026 per gigabyte, per month, including any and all replication and rerouting across the network. That service is currently limited to the U.S., EU and Asia regions, and any existing standard storage buckets in multiregional locations have been automatically converted to the new storage class.

Google cloud storage Regional provides redundancy within a region and is intended for workloads that need to pair storage and compute for analytics, machine learning and other similar services. At $0.02 per gigabyte, per month, the new tier effectively represents a 23% drop in pricing from the current offering. It also comes in under what Amazon charges for its standard storage, which ranges between $0.0275 and $0.03 per gigabyte, per month.

Trying to be the lowest cost for storage is one of the on-ramps to the cloud ... once you do that, you make it more frictionless to get the adjacent services.
Jeff Katosenior analyst and consultant, Taneja Group

The regional tier will be available Nov. 1, along with new API operations pricing for both Multi-Regional and Regional that cuts prices by up to 60% off the current rate, depending on the operations class customers select.

Price cuts around storage are all about getting as much customer data on a platform as possible in order to sell higher-level services, said Jeff Kato, senior analyst and consultant at the Taneja Group Inc., in Hopkinton, Mass.

Providers know customers will want to do more than just store the data, and the high cost to transfer data out of a public cloud often makes it easier to do things like analytics on the platform.

"Trying to be the lowest cost for storage is one of the on-ramps to the cloud," Kato said. "The key is to get it there, and once you do that, you make it more frictionless to get the adjacent services."

Lifecycle management now in beta

Google also added a series of partners to its storage network, as well as a lifecycle management capability currently in beta. The new feature allows users to set policies that automatically move objects to colder tiers based on their age.

Multi-Regional is an important tier for customers doing continuous integration and delivery that make configuration changes in real time, while the lifecycle management could be a compelling addition to the platform, said Lee Chen, head of strategic partnerships at Fastly, based in San Francisco.

Fastly, which partners with all the major public cloud providers, connects to Google's cloud to provide edge connections and real-time performance analytics.

Chen cited the example of customer-facing resources that can go months without getting touched, but can see massive, unexpected spikes in traffic. Being able to easily move data between the tiers could enable Google Cloud customers to improve the economics of cloud storage even further, he said.

Trevor Jones is a news writer with TechTarget's data center and virtualization media group. Contact him at [email protected].

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