Best Cloud Storage for Business & Enterprise 2021

Customers looking for cloud storage seek scalability, agility, flexibility, and most of all cost savings. Even if a cloud storage provider seems expensive, 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 strong push toward the private cloud has faded. Enterprises now have relative confidence that public cloud providers can offer reliable storage at an affordable price in tandem with sufficient data safeguards.

Choosing a Cloud Storage Provider

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 by capacity, data transfer, the number of requests, or a combination.

The leading cloud storage vendors provide on-demand storage capacity and self-provisioning capabilities. They additionally offer features like integration with other IT infrastructure, artificial intelligence, or data and application transportation.

Top Cloud Storage Providers

These cloud storage platforms are worth investment, not only for their position at the top of the market but also for their reliable and powerful platforms. We’ve selected some of the biggest players in the market as well as newcomers that show promise and provide excellent service to their customers. The data storage industry is shifting regularly, and both the top companies and the startups have excellent technologies to offer. Not all of the pricing is exhaustive, but it’s a sample of these enterprises’ storage costs.

Alibaba Cloud Storage

Alibaba Cloud LogoAlibaba is well known and well-regarded in the cloud industry, though it’s not yet made much of a dent in the US market with 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.

Alibaba Cloud provides a wide range of cloud offerings that include storage, which makes its cloud storage offering more attractive for firms with international operations. Businesses can easily leverage their 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. The Asian giant’s Cloud Intelligence Brain is advanced AI tech for heavy business analytics and data processing.

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. It experienced pushback in recent years due to concerns about the dominance of Chinese tech and influence,  but it experienced growth in 2020 and is investing heavily in the cloud storage market.

Alibaba Cloud Storage Pricing

Alibaba offers either pay-as-you-go or pay-per-use billing. Subscription billing has a lower rate. Alibaba also offers after-sales support plans, from a basic free option to an enterprise plan that starts at $8,000.

AWS Cloud Storage

Amazon Web Services logoAmazon 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. AWS continues to invest heavily in cloud storage, and its dominance of the overall market still appears steady. It looks to make advances in Asian cloud storage, though it doesn’t yet challenge Alibaba as the main provider.

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, including 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.

AWS Cloud Storage Pricing

  • S3 Standard
    • 50 TB starts at $0.023 GB/mo
    • Over 500 TB starts at $0.021 GB/mo
  • S3 Intelligent Tiering
    • Frequent Access Tier (50 TB/mo)—$0.023/GB
    • Infrequent Access Tier—$0.0125/GB
    • Archive Access Tier—$0.004/GB
    • Deep Archive Access Tier—$0.00099/GB
  • S3 Glacier
    • For archived items
    • $0.004/GB
  • S3 Glacier Deep Archive
    • For data accessed a couple of times a year
    • $0.00099/GB

Google Cloud Platform

Google Cloud logoThe 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 former Oracle exec Thomas Kurian, the search giant is working hard to build cloud market share. It sits solidly in third place.

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 its other services don’t yet have the higher market share.

Google Cloud Storage Pricing

Google Cloud Bucket Prices:

  • Standard—$0.020 GB/mo
  • Nearline Storage—$0.010 GB/mo
  • Coldline Storage—$0.004 GB/mo
  • Archive Storage—$0.0012 GB/mo

Google Cloud also charges customers for custom metadata, which requires bytes of storage, as well as egress and ingress fees and some Class  A and Class B operations.

IBM Cloud Storage

IBM Cloud logoA leader in enterprise IT, IBM offers Cloud Object Storage (COS) to support a variety of workloads, as well as IBM Cloud Block Storage and IBM Cloud File Storage. It offers mass cloud data migration and provides on-premise storage options for customers, too.

IBM focuses on high performance rather than raw capacity. Its market share has lagged behind direct cloud competitors like AWS, Google, and Azure because it has struggled in the public cloud market, which is the core market for cloud storage.

However, 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. Though IBM is slightly less popular for cloud storage than the big three, it’s a stable, highly-trusted enterprise choice.

IBM Cloud Storage Pricing

  • Object Storage:
    • Lite—25 GB per month for one object storage instance is free
  • Standard (in GB/mo):
    • Smart Tier (hot)—$0.0227
    • Smart Tier (cool)—$0.0144
    • Smart Tier (cold)—$0.0090
  • Under 500 TB of storage (GB/mo):
    • Standard—$0.0238
    • Vault—$0.0144
    • Cold—$0.0072

Microsoft Azure Storage

Microsoft Azure logoThe Microsoft Azure portfolio includes an extensive menu of object storage, file storage, and block storage. Azure offers several tiers of object storage, including Hot (frequently accessed data), Cold (stored for at least 30 days), and Archive (stored for 180 days or more). It also has HDD- or SSD-based storage.

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. 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 with 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.

Microsoft Azure Storage Pricing

  • Block Blobs (in GB/mo):
    • Premium—$0.15
    • Hot—$0.0184
    • Cool—$0.01
    • Archive—$0.00099
  • Azure Data Lake Storage:
    • File storage starts at $0.058 GB/mo

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Storage

Oracle logoLike 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 for many Oracle customers who run transactional and big data engines that require high IOPS and need storage platforms that can manage huge workloads.

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.

OCI Storage Pricing

  • Object Storage (amounts in GB/month):
    • Infrequent Access—$0.01
    • Infrequent Access Retrieval—$0.01
    • Standard—$0.0255
    • Requests—$0.0034
    • Archive Storage—$0.0026

Rackspace Cloud Storage

Rackspace logoAlthough 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 offers high-performance storage for applications. Rackspace’s OpenStack platform allows businesses to transfer applications, including containerized ones, between cloud environments.

Along with these storage services, Rackspace offers a wide array of related services, including regulatory and compliances services, business data protection, and cloud migration. For enterprises that need flexible cloud storage and other services, Rackspace could be a solid choice.

Rackspace Pricing

Rackspace offers the possibility of a monthly minimum storage fee.

Cloud Files, their object storage solution, is priced at:

  • 1 TB—$0.10 GB/mo
  • Next 150 TB—$0.085 GB/mo
  • Over 1024 TB—$0.07 GB/mo

Dell Cloud Storage

Dell logoThe difference between Dell Technologies and some of the other vendors on this list is that many of their storage solutions aren’t solely based in the cloud but offer cloud options. Dell has a range of storage choices, including EMC Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS). ECS isn’t restricted to one public cloud environment, though: Dell has worked to make their storage choices flexible for multiple deployments, and ECS is no exception. It’s intended to feel like a private cloud, with the size and function of a public cloud.

EMC Isilon CloudPools allows customers to store their data in either Dell or Isilon private cloud environments or in a public cloud from other cloud providers. Through Isilon CloudPools, Dell aims to give users flexibility in tiering their data and storing it where they want. Users can specify regulations for tiering within their chosen cloud.

Dell EMC Unity XT is a product designed for multi-cloud enterprises, offering flash and hybrid data storage. Unity XT, like many of Dell’s other storage options, can run in public clouds offered by cloud providers but can also run as entirely-flash on-premises storage. Unity XT has different modules from which buyers can choose.

Dell EMC pricing for Elastic Cloud Storage is available through contacting Dell.

Wasabi Technologies

Wasabi logoFounded in 2016, Wasabi is one of the most promising cloud storage startups in the world. Its Hot Cloud Storage product is designed for object storage and cloud management. Wasabi focuses on speed and decreased prices, highlighting its lower costs compared to top cloud storage vendors like AWS.

Truly fast object storage can be challenging to achieve—object storage is one of the biggest driving forces in the data storage industry, but it’s not known for its access speed. Wasabi is aware that fast object storage in the cloud is what businesses desire, and its hybrid storage looks to bridge that gap. The Boston-based company doesn’t charge for egress or API requests, like many other storage vendors do, and has cost comparison and cost estimator features on its website to contrast the difference in its prices and that of other providers.

Wasabi Pricing

Wasabi’s object storage pricing is $0.0059 GB/mo. It also offers reserved capacity storage for a certain length of time (one, three, or five years).

Nebulon

Nebulon logoStartup Nebulon is fusing cloud management and on-premises flash storage in its Cloud-Defined Storage product. Intended for enterprises, Cloud-Defined Storage is  Software-as-a-Service that balances the need for the cloud with on-premises storage. Many businesses still want the benefit of keeping their data in their local storage while having the security of the cloud. Nebulon is one of the newest storage companies helping enterprises do exactly that.

Nebulon’s hardware is installed in on-premises servers but is managed in the cloud on one control plane. Nebulon markets its pieces of hardware as IoT endpoints called Services Processing Units (SPUs). Each SPU is a PCIe card that plugs into the server and can access other SPUs throughout the data center. Nebulon also intends its cloud-defined storage to be for IoT data in local servers and data centers, a growing need for enterprises.

Pricing

Nebulon’s Cloud-Defined Storage is purchased through a server vendor and installed in the buyer’s on-premises hardware.

Drew Robb
Drew Robb has been a full-time professional writer and editor for more than twenty years. He currently works freelance for a number of IT publications, including eSecurity Planet and CIO Insight. He is also the editor-in-chief of an international engineering magazine.

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