Cloud // Cloud Storage
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12/5/2013
10:10 AM
Charles Babcock
Charles Babcock
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Google Attacks Amazon With Cloud Storage Prices

Google's 60% cut in block-storage pricing is a move intended to unseat Amazon's dominance in cloud infrastructure.

8 Great Cloud Storage Services
8 Great Cloud Storage Services
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The highlight of Google's coming-out party for Compute Engine's general availability as supported infrastructure was the pricing on its virtual servers and storage. It shows a heretofore absent determination on Google's part to compete with the market leader, Amazon Web Services, and secondarily, Microsoft.

Amazon has made it difficult for competitors to attract customers by repeatedly lowering prices on commonly used virtual servers and storage. Microsoft has matched its moves, particularly on storage.

With its announcement this week, Google has come close to matching AWS's virtual server prices while, in a clever move, it has flipped prices around on storage to undercut Amazon. It cut the price for storage attached to working virtual machines by 60%, making it cheaper than Amazon's Elastic Block Store. It made up for that big cut by leaving prices on its long term storage -- the equivalent of Amazon's S3 -- at a little more expensive level. It has chosen the sometimes finicky Amazon Elastic Block Store as the Achilles' heel of the market leader, which it might or might not be.

For example, both Amazon and Google were charging 10 cents per GB per month for Elastic Block Store, or what Google calls Provisioned Storage under its Persistent Storage products. Either one is the disk volume that's attached to a running virtual machine, as opposed to the temporary disk assigned to it on the server rack. VMs are automatically assigned a chunk of temporary storage when they're commissioned, but it, like the user's data, goes away as soon as an instance is shut down. To preserve the configuration of the instance and its data, an Amazon user needs to sign up for EBS. When working with Compute Engine, the user needs what Google calls "provisioned space" on its Persistent Disk service.

[ Want more on cloud pricing? Read Why Cloud Pricing Comparisons Are So Hard. ]

Google cut the price of provisioned space from 10 cents per GB a month to four cents per GB a month. Cloud storage services have frequently been the focus of price cutting in the past. But to put Google's unprecedented 60% cut into perspective, Amazon reduced S3 long-term prices in March 2012 from 12.5 cents to 11.5 cents for the first GB, a drop of 8%. Google followed suit within two days, cutting its long-term storage from 13 cents to 12 cents, a drop of 7.7%. On Nov. 26, 2012, Google dropped storage prices 20% as Amazon opened its first Re:Invent user group show in Las Vegas. Two days later Amazon announced it would implement a 25% cut. Microsoft matched the cuts at the end of the month with a 28% cut on Azure cloud storage.

Now Google has dropped the price of block storage by 60%, going from 10 cents per GB per month to four cents. At the end of two days, Amazon and Microsoft remained silent -- one is tempted to say it has maintained a stunned silence.

Long-term storage, Amazon S3 versus Google Cloud Storage, is a different matter. Amazon charged 9.5 cents per GB a month for snapshot storage or the storage of a file containing many data objects. Google charges 12.5 cents per GB a month for snapshot storage, although the difference is less than the 3-cent price differential would seem to indicate. To get a guaranteed level of disk I/O, Amazon increases the price to 12.5 cents. Google appears to guarantee user-desired I/O levels at no additional charge.

Developers always looking for the lowest-cost infrastructure are sure to take notice. IT managers with responsibility for outsourcing enterprise workloads are likely to consider their options as well. The result of Google's cuts might eventually be a changed competitive lineup in cloud services. Google's 60% reduction in block-storage cost has the direct effect of bringing down the total cost of running a workload.

Amazon might have more vulnerability in block storage than generally perceived. One of the most frequent complaints about Amazon's operation is the sometimes-unpredictable nature of its EBS service. Virtual machines that normally run fine sometimes appear to slow down and take longer to complete a task, with EBS being the most likely wild card in Amazon's lineup of services. The "noisy neighbor" problem is often a reflection of waiting for data from EBS. This happens when one customer's busy virtual machine on a shared host uses up I/O channels and puts CPUs on idle, slowing output for another customer.

Google also heightened the competition on another front with its 10% cut in virtual-server pricing. It listed no examples, but working from Wednesday's posted prices, a Google n1-standard server with a single virtual CPU and 3.75 GB of RAM is available at 10.4 cents an hour, down from 11.5 cents an hour. A roughly equivalent Amazon m1.medium server with one virtual CPU and 3.75 GB of RAM goes for 12 cents an hour. Direct comparisons, however, are difficult. The virtual CPU on the Amazon machine is the equivalent to two 2007 Xeon cores running at 1 GHz. The Google virtual CPU is half of a double-threaded, modern Xeon core running at a higher clock speed.

Storage is the more easily compared service. There Google has chosen to strike in its bid to be taken seriously as a supplier of infrastructure-as-a-service.

Buying power and influence are rapidly shifting to service providers. Where does that leave enterprise IT? Not at the cutting edge, that's for sure: Only 19% are increasing both the number and capability of servers, budgets are level or down for 60%, and just 12% are using new micro technology. Find out more in the 2014 State Of Server Technology report. (Free registration required.)

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IAmOnDemand01
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IAmOnDemand01,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/2/2014 | 2:21:41 AM
Re: Amazon EBS < Google VS AWS - IMO the cloud war of 2014
 the GCP (Google Compute Platform) team managed to clearly identify their direct competition, the AWS cloud. Consequently, they realized that they also need to invest in their IaaS offering. With a great deal of research, they quickly focused their attention on cloud lock-in. They presented out-of-the-box tools that import large chunks of data and "surprisingly" do actually ease the one-way data transfer process from Amazon S3 and Google Cloud Storage. Moreover, the Google cloud team learned that granularity of cloud resources is a key in the cloud and presented the 'charge per minute' of the their compute which is definitely a game changer. They mastered AWS' weaknesses of AWS and presented replication between regions, high performance disks with excellent persistence and will undoubtedly have more to come.

http://iamondemand.com/blog/cloud-model-2014-hybrid-google-brokers-and-the-enterprise-next-level/
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
12/9/2013 | 8:45:56 AM
Re: When "extra scaffolding" results in extra charges
I wouldn't bet against Google either but if I were buying in to the service now and I had the option to pay for an acceptable guaranteed level of service I think I'd go ahead and pay that premium.  While I don't think the first couple of months will result in a flood of new users I would want that hedge of protection and the peace of mind it brings. 
Stratustician
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Stratustician,
User Rank: Ninja
12/8/2013 | 5:36:53 PM
Is cheaper really better?
So if the key issue with Amazon's services have been related to the shared hypervisors and systems going idle, shouldn't that raise flags that the more customers start using these services, due to the more attractive pricing, the worse the problem will get?  This would absolutely be the case for Google then as well, unless they have figured out how to properly load balance the hypervisors to not be affected by traffic from individual customers sharing the same IaaS environment.  Also, to maintain these lower and more competitive rates, you have to wonder what will be stripped out in the back end to make this sustainable as the demand increases,
cbabcock
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cbabcock,
User Rank: Strategist
12/6/2013 | 4:57:01 PM
When "extra scaffolding" results in extra charges
Ah, Joe, doesn't that "extra scaffolding" you refer to amount to extra charges? I think Google is saying you'll get the performance you expect, no need to reserve a quality of service setting for a fee. But I agree it's easy to offer performance when usage is low, harder to do so if this offer takes off among cloud users and traffic builds up. But I'm still not betting against Google's ability to deliver performance.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
12/6/2013 | 10:21:27 AM
Re: Amazon EBS
Good context to keep in mind on EBS. Thanks for weighing in, Joe.
jemison288
IW Pick
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jemison288,
User Rank: Moderator
12/6/2013 | 10:10:59 AM
Re: Amazon EBS
I don't think that Google is really "attacking" EBS as per the core of what EBS is.  In fact, EBS (and EBS-like functionality) is really what enables IaaS for most applications, because it allows for the snapshot and restoring of large amounts of data quickly; without it, you can't run enterprise applications on a provider.  And Google's version of EBS (persistant storage) was too feature-limited upon its beta launch to allow Google to go GA until they added significant features to persistent storage to make it close enough to EBS.  (Specifically, you couldn't attach/detach from different instances, and the snapshot/restore functionality wasn't really there).


GCE is really providing an EBS-like experience that has some potential advantages over EBS, but everything GCE is saying that AWS doesn't provide properly with EBS can actually be implemented with EBS--just with some additional scaffolding.  And while EBS has been the main cause of AWS issues over time, I would submit that that's just because of use.  I would bet a significant sum of money that GCE will similarly see quite a few outages related to its persistent storage once (if) people really start using GCE.

 

 
anon2343491717
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anon2343491717,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/6/2013 | 4:01:41 AM
Cheeper Gb per $
The artical forget to mention the alternative to Gb per $ is Copy! that offer 20Gb of free storage, the upload and download speed are like Dropbox and faster from all alternative that  I can find (Gdrive, SkyDrive, Box)
if you want to get 20Gb, register from this link:
http://goo.gl/h9imj

Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
12/5/2013 | 6:36:35 PM
Re: Face Off
Google's ambition when it grows up is to look like Apple and operate like Amazon.
cbabcock
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cbabcock,
User Rank: Strategist
12/5/2013 | 2:13:36 PM
Google's late to the party, but deadly serious
Google has watched Amazon run off with the infrastructure as a service market, even though it pioneered some of the concepts that Amazon has successfully implemented in its public cloud. Why can't we do that, must be the question raised internally at Google. At the same time, it's taken its own sweet time deciding to get serious about offering public cloud IaaS services. Do you want your business to invest heavily in a Google "developer preview?" That was its status from June 2012 until Dec. 2. Coming late to the party, it had to figure out a way to challenge Amazon that said it is now a serivous contender.
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
12/5/2013 | 1:02:24 PM
Re: Face Off
Smart move by Google. I think that in comparison with Amazon, Google has a better relationship wih many orgnazations through its deployment of Google Apps. 

Google Apps is a veritable "in" for the company to sell other services like this. Amazon, on the other hand, does not. Although I wouldn't think that it would be out of the question for Amazon to try to pursue tht route, it almost seems too late when compared to what both Google and Microsoft already offers. 
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Google in the Enterprise Survey
Google in the Enterprise Survey
There's no doubt Google has made headway into businesses: Just 28 percent discourage or ban use of its productivity ­products, and 69 percent cite Google Apps' good or excellent ­mobility. But progress could still stall: 59 percent of nonusers ­distrust the security of Google's cloud. Its data privacy is an open question, and 37 percent worry about integration.
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