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Deep dive on AWS vs. Azure vs. Google cloud storage options

Brandon Butler | April 26, 2017
Comparing block, object and file storage across the three providers.

Google not only has the highest IOPs, but gives customers the most choice in the size of block storage volumes. For more traditional hard-drive based storage, Google offers volume sizes ranging from 1GB to 64TB. AWS offers volumes between 500GB to 16TB. Azure offers between 1GB and 1TB volume sizes. Like with the SSDs, Google offers the highest level of IOPs-per-volume in HDDs, at 3,000 for reads and 15,000 for writes. AWS and Azure are at 500 max IOPs per volume. Max throughput ranges from Azure are 60 MBps to Google at 180 for read and 120 for write, and AWS at 500 MBps.

As for pricing, it gets a bit complicated (all prices are per GB/month), but for HHD, AWS starts at $0.045, for Google it's $0.04 and Azure is $0.03.

SSD pricing starts at $0.10 in AWS, $0.17 for Google and between $0.12 and 0.14 for Azure, depending on the size of the disk.

In a pricing analysis done by RightScale, the company found that generally the pricing structure means that Azure has the best price/performance ratio for block storage. But, for workloads that require higher IOPs, Google becomes the more cost-effective option.

There are caveats when using provisioned IOPs, says Kim Weins, vice president of marketing at RightScale. In AWS, if you need a guaranteed amount of IOPs, that costs a premium. “You pay a higher cost per GB, but you also pay for the required IOPs on top of it, which drives the cost up higher,” Weins says. “Be smart about choosing your provisioned IOPs level because you are going to be paying for it.”

Weins adds that RightScale has found some customers pay provisioned IOPs then forgot to deprovision the EBS instance when they are done using it, thus wasting money.


Object storage

Got a file that you need to put in the cloud? Object storage is the service for you. Again, the cloud providers have different types of storage, classified by how often the customer expects to access it. “Hot” storage is data that needs to be almost instantaneously accessible. “Cool” storage is accessed more infrequently, and "cold" storage is archival material that is rarely accessed. The colder the storage, the less expensive it is.

AWS’s primary object storage platform is Simple Storage Service (S3). It offers S3 Infrequent Access for cool storage and Glacier for cold storage. Google has Google Cloud Storage, GCS Nearline for cool storage and GCS Coldline for archival. Azure only has a hot and cool option with Azure Hot and Cool Storage Blobs; customers have to use the cool storage for archival data. AWS and Google each have a 5TB object size limit, while Azure has a 500TB per account limit. AWS and Google each publicize 99.999999999% durability for objects stored in their cloud. That means that if you store 10,000 objects in the cloud, on average one file will be lost every 10 million years, AWS says. The point is these systems are designed to be ultra durable. Azure does not publish durability service level agreements.


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