At Google’s IO Conference earlier this month, the company announced its new Google Storage for Developers service, a cloud-based storage solution designed to directly compete with Amazon S3 and Rackspace Cloud.
With Google, the largest Web host in terms of the number of servers, getting into the cloud hosting game, it certainly is a major turning point for the industry but the question is how does Google’s service stand up against the current industry players and will the company be able to make a niche for itself with developers.
Though most of the answer lies within the capabilities of the service itself, at this time information is extremely thin. That being said, we can take a look at what we do know and see how it stacks up against the more established players.
What We Know About Google’s Cloud
Google was tight-lipped regarding details of its new service. In fact, at this time, it is only being made available to a “limited number” of developers and other users who were invited to the service. The service is a “dumb” storage service, meaning it simply hosts files and can not process data or run a server, unlike Amazon’s EC2 service, but it can connect with Google’s App Engine to add that functionality in.
Google’s service uses a Representational State Transfer (RESTful) API that is similar to the one Amazon uses and allows low-level access to the data on the server, letting users manipulate the data directly.
Also, as with Amazon’s service, Google will let its storage accounts expand and contract as needed charging only for the data and bandwidth used. However, those charges a bit higher than Amazon’s offering. Google will be charging 17 cents per GB per month, 10 cents per GB for uploads, 15 to 30 cents per gigabyte for downloads depending on the quantity used. Currently though, users with invites are getting 100GB of data storage capacity and 300GB per month of data-transfer for free.
Amazon, by comparison, charges 15 cents per GB per month for storage at its lowest level and data transfer, though free at the moment at the lowest level, is 10 centers per GB per month normally. Amazon does, however, charge 1 cent per 1,000 qualifying requests.
However, for most uses, Amazon S3 will still be the cheaper solution and, considering that it is also more established and more trusted, despite Google’s name, it is unclear how Google will win over those who have already spent countless hours or building applications and services around S3.
On the other hand, Google may have some of the answer already.
Introducing BigQuery and Prediction API
In addition to its announcement regarding its storage service, Google also announced the launch of its BigQuery and Prediction APIs, both of which are designed to work with its storage service to give users more information about their data.
BigQuery brings to bear some of Google’s search capability allowing users to analyze large data sets. Ideal for parsing network logs, sales records and other “needle in a haystack” moments for large data sets.
Google’s Prediction API is designed to look at historical data and make predictions about future events. This is great for making predictions about what a customer may purchase next or what public opinion about a new offering might be.
Combined, these APIs, both of which use RESTful APIs themselves, are designed to give customers new ways to access and use their data. These are both services that Amazon does not, at this time, provide though a user could set up such a function using Amazon’s EC2 service. However, that would require a great deal of time, and, most likely, expense to make it happen.
Having Google’s analysis solutions ready “out of the box” may be very tempting to developers who need more than a simple storage solution and, instead, need to parse their data in various ways. On that front, it might be a great tool for small businesses who lack the resources to build their own solutions, but would benefit from the tools Google provides.
It is impossible to say whether Google’s storage service will take off. Without benchmarks on speed, an understanding of where the servers are located and how effective the cloud distribution is, there is simply no way to know how great of a value it is or how tempting it will be for users.
What is clear is that Google is an 800 lb gorilla entering this arena and that should give Amazon and Rackspace, along with other competitors, reason to be worried. Google is one of the few companies with the size and reputation to make consumers, wary of putting critical data in the cloud, trust their service with even in their most important data.
After all, we already trust Google’s cloud storage with so much of our information, our emails, calendars, photos, documents and more, it only makes sense to use it as a CDN as well. Compare this to an upstart, which has to prove its trustworthiness with years of reliable performance before most will even consider it.
No matter what happens, Google will be a formidable foe in this arena and, in the end, it is the consumer that will win from the competition as we all get lower prices and better services.
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