Google Escalates Cloud Storage Wars With Nearline

Google stepped up its storage game on Wednesday by introducing Google Cloud Storage Nearline, a product blurring the line, and merging the benefits, between expensive online storage and less accessible cold storage.

Nearline, or (near)online, offers a low-cost storage option -- 1 cent per gigabyte when data is left alone -- with just a smudge of the higher latency inherent in cold storage. Google said it only takes around 3 seconds to retrieve data, which is orders of magnitude faster than rival long-term storage offerings like Amazon Web Service's Glacier.

That performance breakthrough should convince customers they can keep just about all their archival data indefinitely in the cloud, ready to access on the whim of any user, without having to agonize over costs, according to Google product manager Avtandil Garakanidze.

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Introducing the new cloud offering on Google's blog, Garakanidze cited the staggering exponential growth in worldwide data production.

"Given this growing volume of data, it's critical that you store it in the right way --keeping frequently accessed data easily accessible, keeping cold data available when needed, and being able to move easily between the two," Garakanidze wrote.

Nearline's data is not only easily retrievable, but it's also secure -- stored redundantly at multiple locations, with configurable security protocols, according to Garakanidze.

"Organizations 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," Garakanidze wrote.

Simon Margolis, cloud platform lead at Los Angeles-based Google partner SADA systems, told CRN via email he's been anticipating the release of something along the lines of Nearline for a while.

SADA's customers frequently have data that falls into two categories, according to Margolis.

There's the low-latency, on-demand storage they use for applications and other critical services. And then there's the disaster recovery, backup and archival storage, with less emphasis on subsecond response times, but still requiring massive bandwidth, reliability and availability on-demand.

"With Nearline, our customers no longer need to pay approximately three times the cost to store this latency-insensitive data yet still benefit from Google Cloud Storage's network, reach, global redundancy and on-demand access," Margolis told CRN.

Nearline also is groundbreaking in that its roughly 3-second response time is tied to an SLA, when most cloud providers won't even back their 3-hour response times with any formal agreement, Margolis noted.

"All in all we're excited because this enables so many more businesses to adopt the cloud for even more use cases, furthering the effort to moving most organizations 100 percent off of premises," Margolis told CRN.

To ease customers into the new storage platform, Google is partnering with several backup and storage vendors to integrate product functionality, among them, Symantec's popular NetBackup solution obtained through its Veritas acquisition.

NetApp's SteelStore appliance also will be capable of speeding on-ramp to Nearline sometime later this year by encrypting and compressing data before streaming it to the cloud storage platform.

And for potential customers with poor network connectivity, Google's working with Iron Mountain, which will accept physical disks in the mail and upload the data to Nearline.

Geminare's Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service technology also can be run on Google Compute Engine with Nearline storage for users who want to upgrade their disaster recovery capabilities and replicate their data centers.

"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 wrote in the Google blog.

Phil Steen, senior solutions architect at 318, a Google Cloud partner based in Santa Monica, Calif., told CRN via email he could see Nearline adopted as a solution by many of his professional video customers who are looking to access archival video at reasonable prices.

"Would be nice if Archiware P5 were able to add support too," Steen said, adding, "Integration with Google for authentication is a really nice touch so it can be centrally managed for our Google Apps clients too."