BACKGROUND IMAGE: iSTOCK/GETTY IMAGES
Public cloud storage allows organizations to implement scalable, manageable and reliable services to store data. This highly competitive field includes many vendors that offer similar services, but Amazon, Google and Microsoft lead the market.
All three of the major public cloud vendors provide storage services that can be used by organizations ranging from small- and medium-sized businesses to enterprises. Each vendor's public cloud services are similar in nature, so deciding which one(s) to select can be difficult. Some small, but significant, differences between each service can help businesses decide.
Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) is an object storage service that provides an easy-to-use web interface to view, store and retrieve stored data. It provides a robust, secure and redundant offering that companies can integrate with several other Amazon-related cloud products. Amazon S3 integrates with the company's Elastic Compute Cloud, Identity and Access Management and migration services to enable companies to coalesce their data around a complete Amazon ecosystem. Additional storage services include backup and recovery, long-term archival with Amazon's Glacier storage service and the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Storage Gateway service, which provides hybrid cloud storage between on-premises software and Amazon's cloud storage.
Amazon has also invested heavily in compliance, bringing together multiple industries to assist with meeting requirements and standards. Its GovCloud is a segmented AWS region designed to store government data only.
The Amazon public cloud storage service is priced a la carte. The AWS Simple Monthly Calculator can assist organizations with estimating their monthly bill. AWS pricing is based on region, the amount of storage (in terabytes) and access levels (standard, standard infrequent and Glacier). Additional costs include those based on data requests, such as GET/PUT, and data retrieval and data transfer. Like most public cloud offerings, an organization only pays for what it uses. Companies can purchase these services directly from Amazon or through a channel partner.
The AWS Free Tier gives organizations hands-on experience with Amazon S3 and 5 GB of standard storage. It also includes 20,000 GET requests and 2,000 PUT requests. Once a company signs up for an AWS account, it can take advantage of these and other products and services for 12 months or more.
Google Cloud Storage
Google's service is the newest of the "big three" public cloud vendors, but that does not mean it is immature. With an established, robust cloud platform, Google provides object-based storage for use by developers, startups and large enterprises.
Google Cloud Storage offers high availability regionally or globally, which is ideal for streaming live and on-demand content and frequently accessed data, as well as use cases, such as data analytics and batch processing.
Google utilizes its current infrastructure to assist with building its other products. Google also offers multiple archival services, including Nearline and Coldline, which allow customers to access archived data based on their specific needs. Shops can use Coldline for data that users access less than once a year, and Nearline is useful for data that users access less than once a month, but possibly multiple times throughout the year.
Pricing for Google Cloud Storage is based on region (multiregional and regional); type of storage (Nearline or Coldline), including data retrieval and early deletion charges; network egress charges based on destination and usage; and data transfer between regions with specific data requests (e.g., GET, PUT, POST and so on).
Google offers a free 60-day trial that includes credit toward storage costs and free technical support. Businesses can purchase the Google Cloud Platform directly from Google.
Microsoft Azure Storage
The Microsoft Azure Storage service provides tiers of storage, database, and file and disk performance options that can help organizations emulate their other Microsoft offerings within a cloud platform. Microsoft has expanded its cloud analytics service, known as Data Lake Store, to enable organizations to run big data workloads.
Microsoft has made a solid offering with its public cloud storage, but has done so in a way that makes its other software, operating systems, databases and technology seamless to their deployment. By building its cloud offering into all of the services the company offers, Microsoft is making it easier for enterprises already running its software to have a simple transition path into public cloud storage.
Microsoft Azure allows for Blob, table, queue and file storage within its service. How an organization wants to utilize its service will determine what type of public cloud services they will need (i.e., structured, unstructured, legacy or messaging/workflow storage).
Like the other leading public cloud vendors, Azure pricing fluctuates; Microsoft's storage calculator provides a detailed quote of what Azure's public cloud storage would cost on a monthly basis. Pricing is based on the storage region, type of storage (Blob, table, queue or file), the tier of storage the customer is looking for, redundancy and the total amount of storage.
This public cloud storage service is available either directly from Microsoft or via a channel partner.
Battling the public cloud price war
Exploring the pros and cons of public cloud storage