Demystifying Cloud Storage Costs
One of the biggest things we come across is figuring out cloud storage costs when dealing with backing up clients data to the cloud.
Regardless of it being Azure, Amazon Web Services or even BackBlaze; Cloud Storage Providers are commercial businesses. This means they’re trying to maximize their profits as much as possible. In saying this; there are three main factors that can go into pricing:
- Storage Amount – Physical cloud storage required. Usually around 90% of the total cost.
- Download – Pretty much the bandwidth used to retrieve data from the cloud.
- Data Transactions – Basically the changes to the data set while it’s stored in the cloud.
Download and Transactions typically make up the leftover 10% of the total cost.
While it’s broken down in a fairly basic way above; the individual features of the cloud storage will also determine the overall cloud storage costs that you may be billed for.
Let’s get into a few of these and what situations they are suited for.
Cloud Storage Types
This is basically the same as your primary or source data. If using hot storage; it’s more than likely that it’s the live data that your company may be relying upon and changing every day.
In previous times; it’d be data that you store on your on-prem server or NAS device.
The main points around hot storage is that it’s usually a lot more expensive for the actual storage; although the cost of download and transactions is minor (to the point many cloud storage providers don’t charge for either while using hot storage).
Cold storage is for data accessed on a semi-regular basis. This is what level you’d typically use for backup data – you hope not to rely on it but chances are that you’ll need to access and download data from it up to a few times a month.
The price for physical cloud cold storage is typically around half that of hot storage. However the download and transaction costs are around double.
Archive storage is used for data that is typically static; but still needs to be accessible to meet data compliance requirements. The perfect example is accounting records, medical records or legal documents.
The actual storage cost is very small; sometimes 10% of the cost of the same amount of hot storage. The big trade off is that the access costs and download costs are sometimes five or six times higher. There is also usually a stipulation of storage time – where a minimum charge time will be part of the agreement.
An example of this is that once a file is stored in archive storage; you’ll be charged for a minimum amount of time (usually 90 to 180 days). If you delete the file after two days; you’ll continue to be charged as if the file is still being stored for an additional 88 – 178 days.
Data Redundancy Types
Locally Redundant Storage (LRS)
Locally Redundant Storage aims to provide data availability within a specific facility or region. This is the basic redundancy level; keeping 3 replicas of your data for durability.
The cloud storage costs involved with using LRS are low; as the replication of data is minimum effort.
Geo Redundant Storage (GRS)
Geo-redundant storage means that two separate facilities hold identical copies of your data; which are typically hundreds of kilometers apart. This is a great counter measure to something occurring to one of the data centers becoming unavailable. Reasons why a data center may become unavailable include a natural disaster (fire, flood), man made disasters (terrorist attack, chemical explosions, etc.)
The average cost for GRS is double LRS; this is due to the amount of data transactions required to replicate the data being double.
Read Access – Geo Redundant Storage (RO-GRS)
Similar to GRS above; RA-GRS replicates your data to another data center in multiple regions, and allows for read-access on the secondary copy should the primary become unavailable at all.
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