Cheap cloud storage now competitive with the office file server.
Recent price cuts by Microsoft and Amazon to their cloud storage services greatly increased the appeal of cloud storage as a replacement for the file server. The two rivals dropped their prices within days of each other, claiming they were passing savings onto customers.
It now costs just US12.5 cents per month to store a gigabyte of data in the fully redundant, professionally managed data centres of Amazon Web Services’ cloud storage service, S3, or Microsoft Azure.
That means 1 terabyte – or about 1,000 gigabytes, more data than is retained by most small and medium businesses – costs US$1,500 a year to store in the cloud.
That may sound like a lot of money given that a 1TB server-grade hard drive can be bought for several hundred dollars. But this doesn’t take into account the cost of supporting the servers, replacing dead hard drives and backing up the data. The time, labour and materials in maintaining a file server can add up to much more than US$1,500 a year, not including the cost of the server itself.
All these costs are included in the price of cloud storage.
And then there is reliability. Although it may be reassuring to look over at your server and see it whirring away under the desk, the data it contains is less safe than if it were sitting in Amazon or Microsoft’s highly secure data centres.
Amazon and Microsoft give financial guarantees that their services will be available 99.9 percent of the time, which translates to nine hours of downtime a year. How often is your server inaccessible during upgrades or maintenance?
Cloud storage automatically backs up the data to other servers within the same data centre and to a second data centre in another location.
For companies thinking about experimenting with cloud storage, Amazon sells a cheaper version that has lower levels of redundancy. It costs US9.3 cents per gigabyte, or $1,116 to store 1TB for a year. That’s getting very close to the price of two 1TB enterprise-grade hard drives.
Given the ongoing competition between Microsoft and Amazon we could soon see the price per gigabyte fall below 8.3 US cents, or under $1,000 for a TB per year.
So if you have gigabytes of files sitting on a server from past projects or clients, consider moving them to cloud storage and your operational files to Google Apps or Office 365. One less server is one less headache to distract you from running your business.