Feature

Google Cloud Storage service expands with features, price options

Google Inc.'s main cloud-based storage service remains Google Cloud Storage, and the company sometimes adds a service or feature in preview form before making it generally available and backed by a service-level agreement

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Amazon Web Services: Simple Storage Service, Glacier, AWS Storage Gateway

AT&T Synaptic Storage as a Service

HP Cloud Object Storage

IBM SmartCloud Enterprise–Object Storage

Microsoft Corp. Windows Azure Storage

Nirvanix Public Cloud Storage

Rackspace Hosting's Cloud Files

Google Storage for Developers emerged in May 2010 as a technical preview, offering 100 gigabytes (GB) of storage space and 300 GB per month in data-transfer bandwidth at no charge. The preview transformed into Google Cloud Storage the following year, promising customers the chance to use the same storage and networking infrastructure that the company employs for its own data.

Late last year Google launched a Durable Reduced Availability (DRA) Storage option at a lower cost than standard Google Cloud Storage. DRA Storage lowers prices by trading off some data availability compared to the 99.9% availability of standard Google Cloud Storage, according to the company's website. Google initially called DRA Storage "an experimental new feature" but also claimed that it maintained the same latency performance and data durability as standard Google Cloud Storage.

A Google spokesperson confirmed that the company removed the experimental label last month and began offering a service-level agreement (SLA) of 99.0% availability. Google's website says DRA Storage is appropriate for applications that are cost-sensitive or able to tolerate some unavailability, such as data backup and batch jobs.

Google's Cloud Storage is object based and targets backup, archive, primary storage of application data, data sharing and content delivery of static data for websites. The storage is also geared to work with Google's analysis tools for big data.

Getting started/connected

To activate Google Cloud Storage, users log into the Google APIs Console and enable the Google Cloud Storage service in preparation for uploading data via a proprietary RESTful API. Through the Google Cloud Storage API, developers can build applications that use HTTP methods to store, share and manage data from the Internet. The service recommends the gsutil command-line tool, which supports Python 2.6 or Python 2.7, to perform a wide range of bucket and object management tasks such as creating and deleting buckets; uploading, downloading, moving, copying and renaming objects; and setting object and bucket and access control lists (ACLs).

Organizations without programming skills can go to Google partners such as Gladinet, Panzura, TwinStrata, Unitrends and Zmanda for products that can help them connect to cloud storage.

Data center locations

Users can specify if they want their data stored in the U.S. and/or Europe. A Google spokesperson said the company does not identify data center location information for security reasons.

Pricing

The total cost for Google Cloud Storage factors in storage use, network egress (bandwidth usage for downloaded data) based on geographic region and the number and types of requests.

Google Cloud Storage pricing starts at $0.085 per GB per month for standard cloud storage and $0.063 for DRA Storage and decreases for larger capacities. Network egress charges begin at 12 cents per GB per month for the first terabyte (21 cents in the Asia Pacific), and the price drops to 8 cents (15 cents in Asia Pacific) per GB for more than 10 TB to 100 TB. Customers need to contact Google for network egress beyond 100 TB. Network ingress is free.

PUT, POST, GET bucket (API calls to list objects) and GET service (API calls to list buckets) requests cost 1 cent per 1,000 requests per month. GET and HEAD requests are 1 cent per 10,000 requests per month. Delete requests are free.

(Note: All pricing information is valid as of April 1, 2013)

Service-level agreement

Google Cloud Storage's SLA states that the service will be operational and available at least 99.9% of the time in any calendar month. Google provides an SLA of 99.0% availability for DRA storage. Credits go to future monthly bills following this schedule.

Google does not offer the option of custom SLAs for its Cloud Storage service.

Management

The browser-based Google Cloud Storage Manager has drag-and-drop features to allow customers to perform simple management tasks such as creating and deleting buckets, uploading and downloading objects, batch deleting items, organizing data through a folder hierarchy and making objects publicly readable.

The gsutil command-line tool helps with basic as well as advanced management tasks, including setting permissions for objects during upload, setting HTTP headers for requests, setting the content type of objects and using multithreading.

Security

Google Cloud Storage uses the same proprietary security technology and procedures that protect the company's data. Customers can use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) for transport-layer encryption. The Open Authorization (OAuth) 2.0 authentication standard enables data sharing without sharing passwords.

Google Cloud Storage is designed for sharing data with authorized colleagues and partners through Access Control Lists (ACLs). The service supports group-based access control and OAuth 2.0 authentication to let customers share data with small or large groups.

Additional notes

Google offers other services that customers can use in connection with the cloud storage service, including App Engine for creating applications, Prediction API and Big Query for analyzing data, and Compute Engine for running large-scale computing workloads. The Google Drive cloud storage service, aimed at consumers and small and medium-sized businesses, could have some impact on corporate IT when employees use it.


This was first published in April 2013

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