Google’s Coldest Storage Service

MARA Blog

Published: July 26, 2019 by Katie Kuryla

Among a flurry of storage-related announcements at this year’s Google Cloud Next conference is what Google calls “ice cold storage.”

This class of  archive-based cloud storage, designed for long-term data retention, uses the same APIs used by Google’s other storage methods for access and management. In other words, it is aimed at data that is truly dormant, without need for access of any type.

Some early generations of “cold”, “deep cold” or “icy” storage tiers and classes have been plagued by delays while waiting for data to be available for restore. In addition, there are often multiple steps involved based on policies similar to traditional hierarchical storage management (HSM) on-premise approaches. Google’s approach, which eliminates the need for a separate retrieval process and provides immediate, low-latency access to content, is an effort to avoid those issues and keep up with industry trends.

The new archive class takes this one step further, though. It’s cheap, with prices starting at $0.0012 per gigabyte and month. That’s $1.23 per terabyte and month. What makes Google cold storage different from the likes of AWS S3 Glacier, for example, is that the data is immediately available, without millisecond latency. Glacier and similar service typically make you wait a significant amount of time before the data can be used

To put that into context, a gigabyte stored in AWS Glacier will set you back $0.004 per month. AWS offers another option, though: AWS Glacier Deep Archive. This service recently went live, at the cost of $0.00099 per gigabyte and month, though with significantly longer retrieval times.

In a press conference ahead of today’s official announcement, Preuss noted that this service mostly a replacement for on-premise tape backups, but now that many enterprises try to keep as much data as they can to then later train their machine learning models, for example, the amounts of fresh data that needs to be stored for the long term continues to increase rapidly, too.