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Public Cloud Storage Buying Guide

March 18, 2013

A simplistic definition of the public cloud is that it is one big amorphous pool of storage that exists “elsewhere.” While there are many options available, five of the biggest cloud storage repositories include the following:

  • Google Cloud Storage
  • Rackspace Cloud Files
  • Amazon S3
  • Microsoft Windows Azure Blob Storage
  • HP Cloud Object Storage

Let’s take a closer look at each of them.

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Google Cloud Storage

Google Cloud Storage is said to be a multi-purpose place to store archive data or backups and application data (images for a photo editing app for example). It can also share data via Access Control Lists (ACLs), and it serves and analyzes static data for websites.

The service requires no specialized hardware or software. To get started, you log into the Google APIs Console and enable Google Cloud Storage. Then you’re ready to begin uploading data. It is backed by Google’s global network of servers and delivers 99.9 percent or better uptime, housing data in multiple, redundant data centers.

Pricing is divided into tiers. You pay based on number of TB stored, network egress (rates vary for different parts of the world) and total number of requests. It can get a little involved. Google Cloud Storage does offer a free trial until June 30, 2013, with up to 5GB of storage for your first project that uses Google Cloud Storage.

Rackspace Cloud Files

Rackspace Hosting provides public cloud, private cloud, hybrid hosting and dedicated hosting. Its Open Cloud storage portfolio includes the following:

  • Cloud Files is scalable object storage powered by OpenStack. It is online storage for files and media, delivered globally over Akamai’s content delivery network (CDN).
  • Cloud Block Storage provides standard volumes for everyday file system needs and SSD volumes for performance databases and other I/O-intensive applications.
  • Cloud Backup is a file-level backup tool.

Rackspace offers tiered pricing for its open cloud products. While the Google pricing above does seem a little complex, Rackspace prides itself on pricing simplicity. “I have been using Rackspace for backup for many years now and its service offerings are growing,” said Greg Schulz, an analyst with StorageIO Group. “I like its all-inclusive pricing model where I don’t have to worry about extra fees for access, moving or deleting data.”

Jerry Schwartz, senior product marketing manager for Rackspace, added that these cloud services tend to be utilized for media management (video/audio streaming, website acceleration, and file distribution/downloads), big data and bursting (moving compute or storage workloads to the public cloud when needed for additional capacity).

He said that Rackspace offers better support, more robust infrastructure and stronger SLAs than its competitors.

“We give a 100% power/network guarantee and credits up to 100% of the monthly charges,” said Schwartz.

Amazon Simple Storage Services (S3)

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has a few different cloud storage offerings. Its Simple Storage Services (S3) offers good general purpose storage with multiple availability zones around the world and redundant data centers in each of those zones.

Amazon S3 holds over a trillion objects and regularly peaks at over 800,000 requests per second. It is pay-as-you-go with no upfront payments or long-term contracts. You pay for data stored at the storage tier selected. Incoming data transfer is free of charge.

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