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SSD Cloud Storage Latest Tool in Amazon vs. Google

Amid a battle for cloud supremacy involving alternating price cuts and feature introductions, both Amazon and Google introduced solid-state drive (SSD) storage options for their services this week.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) yesterday announced an SSD-backed storage option for its Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS), just one day after Google announced a new SSD persistent disk product for its Google Cloud Platform.

The moves are just the latest in a continuing struggle, as illustrated by research released earlier this month by analyst firm Gartner Inc. showing perennial cloud leader Amazon was being chased by Google and Microsoft in the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) market.

In fact, this week's alternating SSD announcements mirrored a surprisingly similar scenario in March, when Google lowered its cloud service prices and AWS followed up the very next day with its own price reduction. (Here's a price comparison conducted by RightScale after the moves, if you're interested.)

One difference in this week's sparring is that Google positioned its SSD product as a high-performance option, while the AWS offering targets general-purpose use, as it already had an existing high-performance service.

Google said its persistent disk product was a response to customers asking for a high input/output operations per second (IOPS) solution for specific use cases. The SSD persistent disks are now in a limited preview (you can apply here) with a default 1TB quota. SSD pricing is $0.325 per gigabyte per month, while standard persistent disk storage (the old-fashioned kind with spinning plates) costs $0.04 per gigabyte per month.

"Compared to standard persistent disks, SSD persistent disks are more expensive per GB and per MB/s of throughput, but are far less expensive per IOPS," Google said. "So, it is best to use standard persistent disks where the limiting factor is space or streaming throughput, and it is best to use SSD persistent disks where the limiting factor is random IOPS." Included in the Google announcement was news of another new product: HTTP load balancing, also in limited preview.

In the AWS announcement the next day, the company introduced a General Purpose (SSD) volume type to join its existing higher-performance Provisioned IOPS (SSD) service and the lower-grade Magnetic (formerly called Standard) volumes. The storage volumes can be attached to the company's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances.

"The General Purpose (SSD) volumes introduced today are designed to support the vast majority of persistent storage workloads and are the new default Amazon EBS volume," AWS said. "Provisioned IOPS (SSD) volumes are designed for I/O-intensive applications such as large relational or NoSQL databases where performance consistency and low latency are critical."

AWS said the new offering was designed for "five nines" availability and can burst up to 3,000 IOPS, targeting a variety of workloads including personal productivity, small or midsize databases, test/development environments, and boot volumes.

The new AWS EBS product costs $0.10 per gigabyte per month at its Virginia and Oregon datacenters, while the higher-performance Provisioned IOPS (SSD) service costs $0.125 per gigabyte per month. Note that the companies' pricing schemes vary in some details, so listed prices here aren't necessarily directly comparable.

I don't know how AWS has been able to counter its challenger's announcements within 24 hours of release, but I can't wait to see what's next.

Posted by David Ramel on 06/18/2014 at 12:19 PM


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