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8 Best Cloud Storage & File Sharing Services for Business

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Customers looking for cloud storage and file sharing are seeking its many advantages: scalability, agility, flexibility, and most of all cost savings. Even if the cloud storage provider is not inexpensive, cloud storage pricing is still far cheaper then having to buy in-house storage hardware. 

The process of shopping for cloud storage services has recently shifted. Not so long ago, concerns about security, accessibility and data transfer rates in the public cloud drove demand for private cloud and hybrid cloud storage. But the major providers have largely addressed these challenges. As a result, the push toward the private cloud has faded.

Confidence is high among organizations that public cloud providers can offer reliable storage at an affordable price in tandem with sufficient data safeguards.

Businesses selecting cloud storage should be aware that public cloud storage is infrastructure as a service (IaaS) that provides block, file, object, and hybrid cloud storage services. While the services are standalone, they are often used in conjunction with compute and other IaaS products. Services are priced in several different ways: primarily on capacity, data transfer, the number of requests, or a combination.

The leading cloud storage vendors provide on-demand storage capacity and self-provisioning capabilities. Stored data exists in a multitenant environment, and users access that data through the block, network and REST protocols provided by the services.

Alibaba Cloud Storage

Alibaba is well known and well-regarded in the cloud industry, but has backed off the American market for now after failing to make much of a dent in the long-term dominance of Microsoft, Google, and Amazon. It is the leader in the Chinese market, is very strong in Asia and is gaining ground in Europe.

Still, the Alibaba Cloud provides a wide range of cloud offerings including storage, which makes it cloud storage offering more attractive for firms with international operations. Businesses can easily leverage one of these other tools – like artificial intelligence – as they use Alibaba’s storage platform.

Alibaba’s extensive menu is split into several storage services for object, block and file storage. It also offers a cloud storage gateway software appliance.

Alibaba has enhanced its cloud storage capabilities via artificial intelligence, aimed at the image and video recognition markets. Given the Chinese government’s intense focus on moving AI forward, it’s likely that Alibaba will continue to be a leader in this technology.

See our in-depth look at Alibaba Cloud Storage

AWS Cloud Storage

Amazon Web Services is the market leader in cloud computing, and offers a comprehensive range of cloud storage services. This includes Amazon S3 (object), Amazon Glacier for long-term backup and archive, and Amazon EFS for file storage. As AWS rapidly adds features to these services, its dominance of the overall cloud storage market appears likely to remain.

The company has accumulated a huge number of developers and affiliated vendors that have bought into its cloud vision and utilize the S3 API in the cloud applications they develop. These developers and vendors in turn drive the development of still more new storage services. Merely keeping up with AWS’s new tools is challenging.

Amazon also, of course, offers an exhaustive list of services beyond storage, include compute, networking, and a long list of other Big Data and AI capabilities. It competes, then, on capabilities, capacity, and cost at many levels, and is an obvious short-list candidate for anyone considering cloud storage.

See our in-depth look at AWS Cloud Storage
See user reviews of AWS Cloud Storage

Google Cloud Platform

The Google Cloud Platform offers a wider range of different object storage services, as well as block storage for VMs, and file storage for applications. There are also archive services, cloud storage for managed MySQL and NoSQL databases, and data transport services.

Google doesn’t have the market share of AWS and Azure, and so lags behind them in market share and in overall general awareness. But under the leadership of Diane Greene, the search giant is working hard to build cloud market share.

Despite its lower profile, Google’s cloud storage offerings shine when it comes to availability and network performance. It can compete with its rivals head-to-head on raw storage capabilities but is behind them in the sheer breadth of additional cloud services available.

See our in-depth look at Google Cloud Platform

IBM Cloud Storage

A leader in enterprise IT, IBM offers Cloud Object Storage (COS) to support a variety of workloads, as well as IBM Cloud Blocks Storage and IBM Cloud File Storage.

IBM focuses on high performance rather than raw capacity. It is generally regarded as running behind direct cloud competitor like AWS, Google and Azure because it has struggled in the public cloud market, which is the core market for cloud storage.

On the plus side, IBM can scale well and offers durability and resiliency. It is backed up by IBM’s vast partnership ecosystem and installed customer base. It is this loyal audience who is most likely to place IBM on any short-list of vendors for cloud storage.

See our in-depth look at IBM Cloud Storage

Microsoft Azure Storage

The Microsoft Azure portfolio includes an extensive menu of object storage, file storage and block storage. Several tiers of object storage exist. These range from Azure Hot and Cool storage, as well as Azure Archive Blob storage. It also has HDD- or SDD-based storage and other services.

This array of cloud storage services places Microsoft firmly in the number two spot behind Amazon. It is clearly regarded in the tech industry as the biggest rival of AWS on cloud storage. As such, it does battle in the form of price wars in an effort to win business, as well as competing on its feature stack.

The advantage Azure has over AWS is deep integration between Azure and other Microsoft services and applications. Windows shops look to Azure for seamless service. This gives Azure a competitive edge among companies operating on Microsoft platforms.

See our in-depth look at Microsoft Azure Storage
See user reviews of Microsoft Azure Storage

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Storage

Like IBM, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Storage does not go head to head with Amazon, Microsoft and Google on storage capacity or on bulk storage cost. Rather, it is ideally suited to organizations using Oracle databases, enterprise applications, and cloud services that have cloud storage capacity needs.

Oracle can offer this customer base a high-performance cloud based on NVMe-enabled cloud storage services. This fits the bill with many Oracle customers who run transactional and big data engines that are torqued for high IOPS, and that need to be served data by storage systems that can keep up.

Oracle Storage encompasses a broad range of block, file, object, and archive storage services. The company offers high performance, ease of deployment, and predictable costs.

See our in-depth look at Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Storage

Rackspace Cloud Storage

Although it’s a smaller player, Rackspace is well-respected in the cloud market. The company tends to emphasize other cloud services and no longer markets its storage services separately. Instead, they are an additional benefit for those utilizing other Rackspace cloud capabilities.

But its cloud storage capabilities are considerable. Rackspace Cloud Files provides object storage over a CDN which can be used to distribute content to hundreds of locations. Rackspace Cloud Block Storage provides high-performance storage for applications.

Along with these many storage services, Rackspace offers a wide array of related services. These include regulatory and compliances services, protecting business data and cloud migration. For businesses needing help with one of these related tasks, along with cloud storage, Rackspace could be a viable choice.

See our in-depth look at Rackspace Cloud Storage
See user reviews of Rackspace Cloud Storage

Virtustream Storage Cloud

Virtustream Storage Cloud by Dell EMC is an object storage service. It is built upon the massive Dell EMC enterprise offering and finds the most traction in organizations already deploying Dell EMC hardware and software – a large user base.

Archiving is Virtustream’s main use case, although some deploy it for lower tier storage services rated to rarely accessed data. The company may sometimes go head to head with its rivals on object storage bids, but lacks the file and block storage options that many need.

Since its acquisition by EMC, it appears that it has become one of many services that can be offered as part of Dell EMC deals, rather than a mainline cloud storage offering supported by strong marketing efforts. Still, it’s tool set is considerable.

See our in-depth look at Virtustream Storage Cloud

 

Vendor

Locations

Type

Differentiator

Perf.

Avail.

Gartner MQ Rating

Pricing

Alibaba

China, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, India, Malaysia, UAE, US, Germany, UK.

File, block, object

Hard to beat in China for infrastructure that supports agile workloads.

20,000 IOPS, 300 MB/s per cloud disk

99.90%

Challenger

$0.0185/GB/Month, plus downstream data transfer fees starting at $0.076/GB

AWS

US, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, UK, Australia, India, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Brazil, China

File, block, object

Biggest providers with best range of object, file, and block cloud storage options

IOPS: ‎80,000
90 MB/s

99.99%

Leader

S3 storage starts at $0.023 per GB, Amazon Glacier $0.004 per GB

Google

U.S, Belgium, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, UK

File, block, object

Consistent API

25k IOPS per volume

99.95%

Leader

Starts at $0.026 per GB. Data transfer up to 12 cents per GB.

IBM

US, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Great Britain, India, Canada, Australia.

File, block, object

High performance block and file storage

48,000 IOPS

99.95%

Niche

10 cents/GB

Microsoft Azure

US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Australia, India, Japan, Korea, Ireland, Netherlands, Hong Kong, Singapore, Brazil, China.

File, block, object

Microsoft integration, cost

20,000 MB/s, 80,000 IOPS

99.99%

Leader

0.001 cents/GB/month for blob storage, up to $1.54 per month for managed SSDs.

Oracle

US, UK, Germany

File, block, object

Speed of block storage

60,000 IOPS

99.99%

Niche

$0.0255/GB/Mo; Archival $0.0026

Rackspace

US, UK, Australia, Hong Kong

File, block, object

CDN focus

35,000 IOPS

99.99%

Niche

$0.000137. GB/month. Data transfer $0.12 per GB.

Virtustream

US, Germany, Netherlands, U.K

Object

Dell EMC integration

Up to 100,000 IOPS

100.00%

Niche

$0.0300 per month per GB.

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