Google used a video this week to draw attention to its Nearline offering, which it had originally announced on March 11, 2015.
The offer, now in beta release, is aimed at enterprise datacenters looking to offload fast-growing unstructured data for cold storage, and to provide new options for long-term data archiving and low-cost backup/recovery of enterprise data. In typical Google style, the company leveraged the Internet to make its Nearline news more widely known to the IT community.
Even at this early stage, the Google offering competes with Amazon Web Services’ Glacier cold storage and Iron Mountain’s DRaaS offering. Both AWS and Iron Mountain offer online archiving and DRaaS (disaster recovery as a service)—and, interestingly, Iron Mountain was announced as a partner for Google Nearline.
To gain traction in this market space, Google is pricing data storage at $.01/GB/month, and supporting Symantec’s Veritas NetBackup storage management software, which is already widely used in datacenters. Low-cost entry prices are key to getting the attention of enterprise IT datacenters that closely track pricing for all data storage options.
Brian Stevens, Google’s vice president of product management, re-announced Nearline via a 20-minute video, addressing IT’s key concerns for enterprise data storage. In his review of service features, he said Nearline supports encryption in-flight, data security at-rest, and industry-standard data storage application interfaces (APIs) and storage management software agents.
Your Place or Mine?
The announcement capitalizes on the growing trend among enterprise datacenters to outsource non-differentiated data processing tasks to outside firms. In this case, the tasks of archiving, cold storage and backup/recovery are being highlighted. Why? For many datacenters, the sheer volume of data to be backed up is daunting – causing them run out of capacity, or to expand current datacenters.
Transactional data, along with new data associated with Social Media and Mobility, is extremely valuable for Big Data/Analytics, which find patterns in the data, and provide insights to optimize business processes – generating more revenue and profits for customers.
Just as importantly, new data from NoSQL databases, or images and videos from mobile phones must be stored for later access, for a variety of reasons: for legal reasons, for government compliance, and to discover fraud (e.g. credit-card fraud).
Cold Storage and Archiving
How is that data stored? Neuralytix notes that cold storage is often focused on data-retention only, based on organizational policies that ensure data can be retrieved for legal purposes. Speed of retrieval is not the issue here.
For production data, the situation is different: When an outage strikes, the production-level data, which is more actionable, needs to be reassembled quickly and accurately. Google addressed this, by announcing a sub-three-second response time for retrieving data.
Finally, unlike cold storage, archiving presents enterprises with the option to engage in Big Data and analytics of that data. Google’s decision to commit to a sub 3-second retrieval may open new revenue opportunities for it, and given this interest, now Amazon and others will find this space increasingly competitive. Historically, Amazon has taken to price competition to gain an advantage. That’s why Amazon might reduce the price of its Glacier offering to maintain its first-to-market position.
At customer sites, the discussion thread about running specific IT tasks on-prem or in-cloud is picking up steam. Clearly, push has come to shove – and many IT datacenters are going to have to “triage” their data – deciding which datasets are suitable for off-site storage. But, with data growth, including structured and unstructured data, at double-digit rates, current backup/archiving plans will have to change – and change soon – at many datacenters worldwide.
For enterprise data, customers will need to be comfortable that data security, and continued data access, will be easy and within the RPO/RTO guidelines their organizations have already set up for disaster recovery. For cold storage, the barriers are easier to overcome, with less frequently used data needing an alternative site for long-term data retention.
Neuralytix believes that Google has done its homework here with Nearline. The product is clearly the result of studying inhibitors to DRaaS and off-site cold-storage in large enterprise organizations. Google is also partnering with Geminare on its DRaaS software offerings, to support enterprise-ready data retrieval solutions. That is an important factor as Google seeks to grow its share of the enterprise archiving and enterprise data backup and recovery markets.