Google Rattles Cages Of Amazon, Microsoft With 2TB Free Cloud Storage Offer

Google is upping the ante in the cloud storage wars, unveiling a deal Wednesday that offers customers two terabytes of free storage on its public cloud for one year.

To use the free object storage, which runs on the Google Cloud Platform, customers must install cloud gateway software from Panzura, a Campbell, Calif.-based storage vendor that's also one of Google's partners.

Panzura's cloud gateway is a virtual appliance that installs on a VMware hypervisor and connects to the Google Cloud Platform, as well as Amazon S3 and Microsoft Azure storage, among other storage providers.

Panzura used to sell this cloud gateway software but on Wednesday began offering it free of charge.

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With this move, Google is taking the fight to Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, both of which offer cloud object storage services to enterprises, as well as generous amounts of free file storage to consumers.

"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," Chris Rimer, global head of partners for Google Cloud Platform, told The Wall Street Journal.

There is one catch: Panzura only allows customers to access the free Google storage from one location; if they need to access it from multiple locations, they'll have to pay for the privilege.

Cloud storage gateways are popular among enterprises with lots of global branch offices because they let them keep sensitive data stored in on-premise systems and use the public cloud for disaster recovery, archiving and file sharing.

Allen Falcon, CEO of Westborough, Mass.-based Google Apps reseller Cumulus Global, told CRN this is an example of how Google is strategically positioning cloud storage as a commodity.

"The push towards 'free' for base services, like storage space, is helping accelerate cloud adoption by freeing up funds for systems and applications," Falcon told CRN. "Systems and applications have higher value to the customer and generate more service revenue for vendors and partners."

This is Google's first big response to the aggressive object storage price cuts that Amazon and Microsoft regularly make. Google also gives 15 GB of free file storage to its Drive customers. Last month, Microsoft upped its file storage limit for Office 365 customers from 25GB to 1TB.

As for Panzura, it's giving away its cloud storage gateway to drive demand for its higher end cloud storage offerings.

"Our hope with providing cloud gateways for free is to help people understand that the real value of cloud storage is acting as a collaborative fabric for cross-office collaboration and not as a cheap digital attic," Panzura Chief Marketing Officer Barry Phillips said in a blog post.