Amazon Glacier: Low-Cost Cloud Archiving, But Not If Data Needs Occasional Access

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Amazon Web Services on Tuesday unveiled a new public cloud, long-term archiving solution that allows customers who are not concerned about high-speed access to data to do their archiving in the cloud for as little as 1 cent per GB of data per month.

The move could spell trouble for vendors of hardware and software used for archiving data, including tape vendors, given the cost of the new service and Amazon's promised data durability.

AWS said the aptly-named Amazon Glacier is not for users in a hurry. A single file or multiple files can be uploaded into Amazon Glacier as an archive, with access requiring the initiation of a job. A job typically takes 3.5 hours to 4.5 hours, AWS said.


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It could be considered the opposite of AWS's new Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud instance called High I/O, which provides an SSD front-end to the AWS service for applications requiring high-speed, low-latency access to data in the cloud.

Amazon Glacier is slated to be a highly reliable service. AWS claims average annual durability of 99.999999999 percent, or 11 nines of availability, which is the same durability as that of its Amazon S3 standard storage. Amazon estimated that a durability of 99.999999999 percent means that a customer might expect to lose a single data object once every 10,000,000 years.

Amazon Glacier secures the data by transferring it over Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and encrypts the data using AES256 encryption.

The cost of the service is as low as 1 cent per GB of data per month, with no up-front commitments or operational expenses required, which means users only pay for what capacity they use. However, the company will charge an additional 3 cents per GB for items that are deleted within 90 days of being moved to the service. In addition, there is a 1 cent per GB for any amount of data over 5 percent of the amount of data stored with Amazon Glacier, pro-rated on a daily basis.

Amazon Glacier can be used with other AWS offerings, including AWS Import/Export to allow movements of large amounts of data into the service via portable storage devices. Amazon S3 is expected to have an option for moving data between Amazon S3 and Amazon Glacier based on users' data lifecycle policies, the company said.

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