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Google squares up for new AWS cloud battle with Nearline beta launch

Google unveils AWS Glacier challenger, which promises business users unlimited storage and fast data retrieval times

Google is preparing to battle Amazon Web Services (AWS) on a new cloud front, having announced the beta release of an off-premise cold storage service to rival AWS's Glacier.

The search giant’s Nearline offering allows users to store data in the cloud that is infrequently accessed, but may need to be retrieved at a moment’s notice for disaster recovery purposes.

The company is quoting three-second retrieval times for data stored in Nearline and claims that it offers “limitless” storage capacities.

In a blog post, Avtandil Garakanidze, product manager at Google, said Nearline is designed to support enterprises that are having to retain increasing amounts of data for market analytics purposes.

“The amount of data being produced around the world is staggering and continues to grow at an exponential rate,” he wrote.  

“Organisations can no longer afford to throw data away, as it’s critical to conducting analysis and gaining market intelligence. But they also can’t afford to overpay for growing volumes of storage.”

Nearline’s low latency means it shares the same accessibility characteristics as other forms of online storage, but is offered at a cost equivalent to using offline storage methods, with the firm charging users 1% per GB of data stored at rest.

The service is currently available only in beta, which Google hopes will lead to users uncovering new usage scenarios for it.

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To support it, Google has announced partnerships with a host of data backup and recovery suppliers that will support the release of Nearline by integrating the service into their existing offerings. These include NetApp, Symantec, Iron Mountain and Geminare.

“Our primary focus is to help you bring new use cases to life, and this is why we’ve worked with some of the leading backup and storage providers and are focused on growing this ecosystem," Garakanidze’s blog post added.

Nearline’s cold storage capabilities and low cost are likely to draw comparisons with AWS’s cloud archiving system Glacier, which offers users data retrieval times of up to several hours.

However, although businesses might be tempted by Google’s promises of low costs, fast retrieval times and unlimited storage, Clive Longbottom, service director at IT analyst Quocirca, said users should be wary about moving their data into Nearline.

“Google is quite happy to drop products that turn out to be not as profitable as it hoped, so you could find yourself having to move a large amount of data from Google to a different provider should it decide to pull the rug out from under Nearline,” he said.

“Also, it’s only in beta at the moment, so organisations need to take that into account as well.”

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