With Google Offer, Cloud Storage Gets Closer to FreeJuly 09, 2014
Wall Street Journal
by Alistair Barr
Google Wednesday fired another shot in the price wars for cloud-computing services, offering businesses more free storage in an effort to compete with industry leader Amazon Web Services.
Google Cloud Platform offered two terabytes of free storage for a year, through one of its partners, a startup called Panzura.
The move highlights the battle among Google, Amazon and Microsoft MSFT -0.38% to provide companies with remote storage, computing power and other technology services, which reduce companies’ need to buy and run their own equipment. Some industry insiders predict storage will soon be free.
By comparison, Amazon offers a service for infrequently accessed data at one cent per gigabyte per month, which would equate to $120 a year for one terabyte of storage. Microsoft’s Azure service offers business the first terabyte of data storage for as little as 2.4 cents a gigabyte per month.
“Storage is a race to the bottom on pricing,” said Rajesh Abhyankar, CEO of MediaAgility, a cloud consulting firm that works with Google. “The money will be in software and services that sit and run on top of these companies’ cloud platforms.”
Abhyankar said Google’s free storage offer with Panzura is part of an effort to grab business customers from Amazon. “Google is trying really hard to catch up with AWS,” he said. “These types of offers may persuade users to move their data.”
Abhyankar said Google can combine cheap cloud services with other products that companies pay for, such as its Maps Engine Pro service that displays corporate data on digital maps.
Research firm Gartner in March estimated companies’ spending on outsourced computing services like those provided by Google and Amazon would rise 45% this year to $13.3 billion.
Panzura, the startup working with Google, helps companies store data remotely in Amazon, Google and Microsoft data centers and provides tools that let them access the files from multiple locations with existing software programs. The Google offer covers access from one location using a free Panzura service. If companies need access from multiple locations, they have to pay Panzura, although Google will still charge nothing for the storage for a year.
“This is a way for customers to try something new, especially if they have had some kind of aversion to using the cloud in the past,” said Chris Rimer, global head of partners at Google’s Cloud Platform business.
He said Google wants to encourage businesses to move more of their computing to the cloud. “We want to make sure potential customers are not worried about cost as a barrier to entry,” Rimer said.
Cloud storage companies Box and Dropbox also offer free storage plans, but these typically focus on individual users and have storage limits that range from a few gigabytes to 100 gigabytes.
“There are free offers out there for gigabytes of storage, but terabytes is where it starts to get interesting for companies,” said Rimer.