There’s a litany of platforms and applications out there under the great “cloud” umbrella. Storage, one part of the broad category, epitomizes this trait of cloud computing as a whole: an almost overwhelming array of choices.
The crowded storage field ranges from consumer champions like Dropbox, which have recently pushed to appeal to business customers, to tech titans such as Microsoft, which have long held sway with IT but are now trying to be all things to all people. Microsoft alone offers a menu of backup and storage options across its OneDrive and Azure platforms.
Choice isn’t the only hallmark of cloud storage. The category also typifies the twin prongs of many sales pitches for cloud as a whole: It’s cheap and it’s easy — especially relative to so-called legacy alternatives that require on-premises hardware, software licenses, and the manpower and expertise to manage it all. Reduced capital expenditures (capex) — usually in the form of hardware and licensing costs — have been a fundamental of vendor sales pitches since “cloud” became of the buzz-iest of IT buzzwords.
When it comes to storage, those sales pitches aren’t without merit. Building a datacenter from scratch — much less properly managing one — ain’t cheap. And thanks to cutthroat competition for enterprise business among heavyweights such as Amazon Web Services, Google, and Microsoft, as well as the likes of Box and Dropbox, cloud storage has rapidly become commoditized. Gigabytes cost a few pennies (or less) per month; your first terabyte of standard storage runs 30 bucks a month on Amazon’s S3 cloud, based on regular pricing, and the cost-per-GB decreases with higher volumes.