It’s commonly said that public cloud storage is cheap, but that its data transfer costs supposedly make it unsuitable for long-term cloud archiving.
Who’s making this argument? From what I’m seeing, it’s coming from vendors selling private cloud or on-premises storage solutions.
They do a good job of making it sound like cloud storage has this hidden cost that makes it more expensive over time. You don’t pay to retrieve your data in the other models, do you? And the argument usually stops there, without any quantification.
It sounds like it could be a legitimate argument. But as we’ll see, it isn’t.
Retrieval activity is initially difficult for an organization to estimate. It isn’t something we measure before going to the cloud. But remember, we’re talking about archiving here, and the fact is that most data becomes low-touch – if not completely inactive – after just 30 days.
Here are a few factors that’ll strongly influence your monthly data transfer activity:
So, let’s run some numbers and look at data transfer costs specifically, proportionally, and relatively.
For our examples we’ll use 100 terabytes (TB) archived in Microsoft Azure – which is what Veritas Alta™ SaaS Protection uses for storage. The following chart shows data transfer costs in a given month by volume:
Figure 1: Monthly cost to transfer various amounts of data.
Indeed, data transfer costs do not exist when you own and operate the storage. So, at first glance, these data transfer costs likely induce sticker shock. But let’s dig a little deeper. Here are a few initial things to consider:
Depending on which survey you believe, anywhere from 45 to just over 90% of a typical organization’s data is inactive and is a perfect candidate for archiving.
Comparing the total cost of ownership of cloud storage to that of on-premises storage shows that the cloud is the least expensive storage for inactive data even when you take the data transfer costs into account.
Remember, on-premises data storage is a capital expense, and you need to include cost of depreciation, power consumption, cooling, data center space, time employees spend administering and maintaining the storage infrastructure, and technology refreshes every 3 to 5 years. These additional costs aren’t anything you need to concern yourself with for cloud storage.
Depending on your volume of active data, and the amount of activity, cloud storage might even be less expensive for non-archive data, but that will vary from organization to organization.
Data transfer costs can indeed be a significant portion in the cloud archive model. But relative to in-house storage costs, it’s nowhere near being a factor that makes public cloud economics unsuitable for long-term archiving.
Could it be that traditional storage vendors want you to compare apples to oranges? To compare only the upfront purchase price tag of their offering against the complete TCO picture of their biggest threat, the public cloud? Could be. Or it cloud be that too many people only see what’s immediately in front of them rather than considering the long-term.
Several studies from multiple IT analysts show that spending on the cloud is likely to continue at an ever-increasing rate at the expense of traditional on-premises storage.
Although data transfer costs are specific to public cloud storage, there are more cost factors in the in-house storage model that you simply never see in public cloud, as described above. Remember that most storage equipment has a life span – typically 4 years – requiring an expensive (and sometimes painful) data migration at refresh time along with another large capital expenditure on the new gear. Remember this the next time you hear that cloud storage costs are recurring long-term. In-house storage costs are too – just differently.
If you’d like to learn