Amazon Channel Partners Talk Business Value Of Cloud Drive Price Slash

The move by Amazon to offer unlimited cloud storage for a pittance of a service charge may be of interest to consumers looking for alternatives to file sync and share applications, but Amazon's solution providers see little or no impact to the business side of the cloud.

Amazon on Thursday unveiled an unlimited photo plan for the Amazon Cloud Drive that allows customers to store an unlimited number of photos for about $1 per month, after a free three-month trial period. The plan also includes 5 GBs of free cloud storage for other files.

Amazon also unveiled an unlimited everything plan under which customers can store an infinite number of photos, videos, files, documents, music and video on Amazon Cloud Drive for about $5 per month after a three-month trial period.

[Related: Reeling In New Customers: The Tempting Bait That Is Low-Cost Cloud Storage]

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Amazon is by no means the first to offer free or nearly-free cloud storage.

Several of Amazon's peers have done so, although they all offer some limitations and are typically not aimed at business users. Other types of free or near-free cloud storage are tied to other cloud offerings. For example, Microsoft offers unlimited cloud storage to its Office 365 customers at no charge.

For Amazon's solution provider partners, the new Cloud Drive plans are expected to have no impact on their cloud offerings, but could impact other vendors, particularly in the cloud-based file sync and share market.

Unlike Amazon's business-oriented Work-series of offerings such as WorkDocs, WorkMail and WorkSpaces, Cloud Drive is mainly focused on the consumer side, said Luis Benavides, CEO and founder of Day1 Solutions, a Falls Church, Va.-based solution provider and Amazon channel partner.

"There's a very clear delineation between the consumer and business sides at Amazon," Benavides told CRN.

However, Benavides said, the move to bring more customers to Cloud Drive with the low pricing could help Amazon expand the capabilities of some of its business-oriented offerings, especially WorkDocs, formerly known as Amazon Zocalo.

"WorkDocs has been getting competitive with Box and Dropbox, and customers are looking for a level of service parity with Google and Microsoft cloud offerings," he said. "WorkDocs currently is not tied to Cloud Drive, but if Cloud Drive is successful, we could see Amazon use similar technology and pricing attributes in its Work line. It would be very easy to add Cloud Drive to WorkDocs, which could give it Dropbox-like capabilities."

Jamie Begin, CEO of RightBrain Networks, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based solution provider and Amazon channel partner, told CRN that the impact of low-cost Cloud Drive storage might be felt in the SMB market, but not at the enterprise level. "SMBs are cost-sensitive," Begin said. "I can see it from that perspective. I'm a small business, and every dollar I spend is a dollar out of my pocket."

Enterprise requirements are different, Begin said. "Enterprises tend to be more security-conscious, with concerns about things like compliance and auditing," he said.