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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.

object storage aws azure google rightscale

Pricing on object storage is slightly more complicated because customers can choose to host their data in a single region, or for a slightly increased cost they can back it up across multiple regions, which is a best-practice to ensure you have access to your data if there is an outage in a region.

In AWS, for example, S3 costs (all prices are in GB/month) $0.023; to replicate data across multiple regions costs twice as much: $0.046, plus a $0.01 per GB transfer fee. AWS’s cool storage service, named S3 Infrequent Access (IA) is $0.0125 and its cold storage/archival service Glacier costs $0.004.

Google has the most analogous offerings: It’s single-region storage costs $0.02, while multi-region is $0.026, with free transfer of data. The company’s cool storage platform named Nearline is $0.01 and the cold/archival product named Coldline is $0.007. Google says data retrieval from Coldline is faster (within milliseconds) than in Glacier, which AWS says could take between minutes and hours.

Azure offers single-region storage for $0.0184, and what it calls “Globally Redundant Storage” for $0.046, but it is read only, which means you cannot write changes to it, doing so costs more money. Azure’s cool storage is named Cool Blob Storage is $0.01. Azure does not yet offer a cold or archival storage platform, so customers must use Cool Blob storage for that use case.

Based on these pricing scenarios, Google has the least expensive pure object storage costs, plus the free transfer of data, RightScale found. AWS, however, beats Google on cold storage costs.


File Storage

An emerging use case is the use of a cloud-based file storage system. Think of this as a cloud-based version of a more traditional Network File System (NFS): Users can mount files to the system from any device or VM connected to it, then read and retrieve files. This is a relatively nascent cloud storage use case and therefore offerings are not yet as full featured compared to block and object storage, Adler says.

AWS’s offering in this category is named Elastic File Storage, which emerged from beta in June 2016. It allows users to mount files from AWS Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) virtual machines, or from on-premises services using AWS Direct Connect or a virtual private connection (VPC). There is no size limit, so it scales automatically based on need and offers a 50 MB per second throughput per TB of storage; customers can pay for up to 100MBps throughput. It starts at $0.30/GB/month.

Azure, meanwhile offers Azure File Storage, which is similar in nature but has a capacity of 5TB per file and 500TB per account and it requires manual scaling. It offers a 60MBps throughput for reading files.


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