Technology

Review of Cloud Storage Pricing on GCloud VI

Now that Gcloud VI has been published I have been reviewing our pricing and positioning against other suppliers. I thought it would be helpful to share given the variety of providers now available through the Digital Marketplace. Transparency is one of the great benefits of the Digital Marketplace particularly for customers though also for suppliers.   It saves time and money with market research agencies doing mystery shopping. It also takes away time and effort and costs of negotiating individual contract terms and pricing on all solutions which creates an implicit lock in with suppliers already on the vendor list. Sure there is a place for that on large complex IT solutions, but on the Digital Marketplace if you like the service price and SLA you can just buy readily.

In this blog I focus in particular on Cloud Storage and will review Cloud Compute at a later time.

First comment to make is that when you search for Cloud Storage under IAAS there are 371 entries. That is both a benefit in terms of choice, but also potential source of confusion for customers.  Of course many of these are not Cloud Storage services as such, but may be Cloud Compute services with a storage option built in or backup services and of course there are still the GCloud 5 duplicate entries. When you look a little further quite a number of these are resellers who are selling third party services eg typically large well known US public clouds. Skyscape who have been a successful provider in Gcloud to date also has a lot of resellers listed. Nothing wrong with that and it can be useful for customers to bundle services with a single supplier from a service management perspective even if some elements of the infrastructure are not owned by the supplier. However, for the purposes of this analysis I have excluded resellers. That takes the number of providers down to quite a manageable level.

I have included both hourly and monthly billing in the analysis, but I have ignored service providers who require annual contracts to access the service as this may indicate that this is not a true cloud service with instant availability and burst capability. I have also weeded out those with service on boarding fees which tend to indicate some sort of dedicated deployment rather than a true Cloud service. I have also excluded ‘Private Cloud’ solutions for the same reason – they have a place but if not multi-tenant not really Cloud in my view and more costly anyhow for that reason. Our services are billed hourly. Not all storage services are and many are billed monthly.

Where there are discounts for volume or term commitment I have ignored those and used the unit pricing for usage contracts to assist with comparability. It is certainly worth checking these out carefully with suppliers of interest to you, as the headline rates that you see on the portal from some suppliers reflect pricing based on maximum commitment (volume or term) and lowest service level.  Our headline rate is based on usage hourly billed.

Where suppliers have got multiple service options I have included their lowest tier option with their lowest SLA for the purposes of comparison. Tiered storage solutions are usually based on Enterprise SAN solutions where you pay a high premium for performance. There may be a low costs option but with lower performance. Our services are based on commodity hardware, but as we have high performance network connectivity to all nodes the performance of our storage is very good. We also offer 99.99% availability SLA based on the inherent 3 times replication of data within the platform resulting in high levels of tolerance to node failure. Some of the providers offer lower SLAs.

I have included data transfer rates for public Internet where given. Most clouds recover the cost of Internet connections through transfer fees out of the platform with inbound traffic typically uncharged.   We take this approach. I have used the pricing for lowest volume of transfers, many including ourselves offer volume discounts related to throughput. Some providers offer only dedicated Internet port options, which can take some time to configure for customers, have a fixed associated cost and can lack scalability for large transfers. That is a declining model.

I have not analysed private connectivity options. Our Cloud Service can be accessed both through Public Internet and through private networks such as PSN and N3. Where private networks are connected we don’t levy a throughput fee (though there may be a fixed cross connect charge). Increasingly we will see encrypted Internet VPNs and encrypted storage will dominate as a solution over dedicated networks due to cost and convenience whilst providing adequate levels of security for most Official class data.

Finally where providers offer separate block and object storage solutions I have used the block storage option. In our case we provide object and block storage from the same platform at the same rate, though many providers have differential pricing and these days object storage is of greatest interest for large data storage where cost will be important.

So here is the result.

The first thing to note is that Data News Blog’s pricing is sitting proudly amongst the pack of global cloud providers on cost of storage with and is the lowest cost of those that provide their services within the UK. In fact our pricing is comparable with the market leader Amazon. Google is a little cheaper (only available through resellers but included for completeness). Somewhat surprisingly to me at any rate Microsoft is currently cheaper on storage than Amazon, but of course delivered from Ireland and Netherlands adding latency and with a US support organisation.

So the message is clear, if you want UK hosted Cloud Storage, supported by UK security screened staff and if cost matters to you there is only one choice. If cost doesn’t matter you can select a more expensive alternative!