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5/26/2010
04:53 PM
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Google Gives Amazon S3 A Run For Its Money

If you're a midsized firm looking for low-cost cloud storage, this has been an interesting couple of weeks.

If you're a midsized firm looking for low-cost cloud storage, this has been an interesting couple of weeks.First, Google announced its new online storage service. Google Storage for Developers is just that -- a means of renting access to a massive, distributed storage infrastructure. It's open right now on a trial basis to a limited number of developers, but I think Google will open things up considerably within the next few months.

Keep in mind -- we're not talking about Mozy on steroids here. This is a very different market than the user-friendly, ready-to-eat online storage services that consumers and very small companies are more familiar with. Google Storage for Developers will compete directly against Amazon's S3 service, which also offers industrial-strength, cloud-based storage for developers, including those deploying virtual servers and apps using Amazon's own EC2 service.

Speaking of Amazon, it conveniently picked the day before Google's announcement to unveil a new pricing scheme for its own S3 service. Users who can live with a lower level of reliability (in this case 99.9 percent) will pay 10 cents per GB, compared to 15 cents for the usual service level. In practice, any non mission-critical application that uses S3 could probably work just fine at the lower service level, so it's a big deal for a lot of customers.

Google, by the way, has set pricing for its own service at 17 cents per GB stored, with no discounts for customers who can live with a less stringent SLA.

Don't Miss: NEW! Storage How-To Center

So, put all of this together, and what do you get? It looks to me like the beginnings of a price war.

Don't expect hostilities to erupt just yet. For starters, Google still has a ways to go before its service is ready for production use. Still, it's encouraging to see that S3 will get a serious run for its money. For SMBs that work with this type of cloud-based storage, especially in conjunction with fast-growing, fully virtualized server infrastructures, this can only be good news.

Is there a downside? Perhaps in a way. As the big get bigger in this market, the less-big companies will find it increasingly difficult to compete on cost. Inevitably, that will lead to a shakeout -- and that means paying close attention to the financial health and stability of your cloud storage provider.

Or it just means sticking with Amazon or (eventually) Google. It's up to you.

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