Urs Hölzle, Senior Vice President for Technical Infrastructure at Google, speaks during the Google I/O 2014 conference in San Francisco Stephen Lam/Getty Images
Urs Hölzle, Senior Vice President for Technical Infrastructure at Google, speaks during the Google I/O 2014 conference in San Francisco

Google Says Cold Storage Doesn't Have to Be Cold All the Time

Launches cloud service for cold storage that can serve data fast when it's really needed

Google has introduced a low-cost cold storage service called Cloud Storage Nearline. This type of cloud storage is meant for less-frequently accessed data, and Google's service costs about a penny per gigabyte of data at rest.

Competitor Amazon Web Services also has a cold storage offering, which is called Glacier, as well as a data warehousing service called RedShift. Google is playing catch-up with its cloud storage portfolio, but it has taken a different approach to cold storage. While pricing is comparable to Glacier, a big difference is data stored in Nearline will be available within a few seconds rather than the standard hour or so for other offerings.

Cold storage normally implies a compromise in terms of how fast the data can be accessed. It’s low-cost because it’s offline, but Google’s approach is “nearline.” The data remains online just in case, with latency gap closing despite the price gap remaining.

It means customers don’t need to make that time compromise for the types of data that isn’t accessed often, but may be needed quickly every once in a while, for example when someone is searching through historical data or photos that users don’t frequently look. It's cold storage that doesn't always have to be called.

Avtandil Garakanidze, a product manager at Google, highlighted the dichotomy of cold storage needs on the company’s blog: “Organizations can no longer afford to throw data away, as it’s critical to conducting analysis and gaining market intelligence. But they also can’t afford to overpay for growing volumes of storage.”

Google's Nearline is fully integrated with other Google Cloud Storage services and uses the same programming models and APIs. Redundant storage at multiple physical locations protects data.

Google partnered with Veritas/Symantec, NetApp, Geminare, and Iron Mountain to roll the service out. The partners give their enterprise users on-ramps into Nearline easily.

Geminare runs Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service on Google Compute, and its portfolio extends with Nearline. Iron Mountain, a big data archiving services company, will send customer data on physical disks to Google for secure upload into Nearline.

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