Storage Costs Plummet, as Amazon and Microsoft Compete

Written by Tim Haight

I'm VP of Technology Services for CGNET. I love to travel and do IT strategic planning.

October 18, 2013

Azure logoI admit I’m coming late to storage awe. It’s massive drop in cost and increase in capacity has been happening for years. So maybe this is a slow news day, or maybe it’s because I spent yesterday hanging out with people from Microsoft Azure.

Every time you look around, the price of storage is falling. CGNET recently renegotiated its contract with its online storage provider, and the cost per GB went way down. This morning, the Fry’s ad in the local paper had a 3 terabyte hard drive on sale for $129. That’s 4.3 cents per gigabyte. And this is RETAIL to consumers, not part of a huge SAN or NAS. I mean, I distinctly remember when I was happy to see storage at a buck a megabyte. What is the Moore’s Law for storage?

OK, big deal. The clued-in among you can come back and say you can get a penny a megabyte. Have you noticed, by the way, that your keyboard no longer has the one-cent symbol? This was the first time I’ve looked for it for years. Honest, kids, it used to have a one-cent key. So in some ways the cost of storage has ceased to exist. That’s silly until you read a book like Chris Anderson’s “Free,” which was published back in 2009. Sometimes, these things are no longer worth charging for.

The point is that this is changing more than marketing. For example, Microsoft has bought this neat little company called StorSimple. They have an appliance, which Microsoft is giving away with a $25,000 commitment to purchase Azure services, that provides Tier 2 storage (things not quite as demanding as OLTP, stuff like email). The appliance has three tiers of storage, on two kinds of hardware. The fastest storage is for the most recent, most used stuff. It’s the native bits. The second tier is stuff that’s a little older and/or a little less used. It’s de-duplicated before it’s stored. Both of these tiers are on solid state drives. Chips. The next tier is on hard drives, and then the stuff that’s even older and less used is sent to the cloud.

Only a couple of years ago, we were talking disk to disk to tape, or disk to disk to Internet. Now it’s disk (or processor) to flash to disk to Internet.

StorSimple also has a nice approach to restore, which my naïve mind found engaging. The map to all the stored data is recovered first, then the data is recovered in the order which users ask for it. This means that for practical purposes users can get started really fast, it gives RTO sort of a new meaning, because you don’t have to recover everything to do your work.

Microsoft is going after the Internet storage market. Azure has relationships with EVault and CommVault and Data Castle. Microsoft has a lot of capacity out there, as does Amazon. Amazon’s Glacier storage service is advertised at “as little as $.01 per month.” I’m sure other big cloud vendors have similar offers.

Wow. How things change.

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