Google Cloud Storage, announced Tuesday, allows you to store your company's business data online for a minimal cost. You can access your data from anywhere, you don't have to engage in costly server hardware management, and the largest tech giant in the world protects your data. All of this opens up cloud data storage to small and medium sized businesses as well as the enterprise-sized companies that were relying on it in the past.
Cloud storage really came into prominence in 2009, with Nirvanix and Amazon's S3 service being two of the major pioneers. Since then, Amazon has continued to dominate the space, with other players like Rackspace and Microsoft offering their own solutions.
Just when you thought Google hadn't taken over enough of the world, it's about to take on the cloud data storage space for enterprises. It's offering a limited, free trial for the service--formerly known as Google Storage for Developers--until the end of December. Google is not charging at all for uploading data to your company's cloud, and only charging a maximum of 13 cents per gigabyte per month once you exceed your free trial quota.
By contrast, Nirvanix has much higher rates, while Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3) is competitive with Google Cloud Storage. However, where Google offers a free trial until the end of this year, Amazon offers a free trial for a full year
The Technical Details
If you want to know more about the capabilities of Google Cloud Storage, its product manager Navneet Joneja covers the finer technical points in the video below. (It was delivered in May, so some of the features mentioned may have changed.)
The Google Cloud Storage docs section includes a guide for developers and a basic introduction to activating Google Cloud Storage.
Pricing Opens Up Cloud Storage for Small Business
Cloud data storage starts to make sense for small businesses at the prices that Amazon and Google are offering. Google Docs has been the cloud solution of choice for many small businesses, but the 1024 megabyte storage cap it offers is severely limited.
There are some other free storage options if you want a mid-range choice between Google Docs and Google Cloud Storage or Amazon's S3.
While my choice would be Amazon--based on the free trial and its history of solid cloud hosting--Google Cloud Storage may win over those who trust Google's brand more than they would trust Amazon, and those who like the access analytics that Google is now offering with the service. Amazon still offers a better support plan for clients, while Google only offers help through forums. If you can hold on a bit longer, it's worth seeing how Google develops Cloud Storage, but right now Amazon still seems like the top choice.
Angela West dreams of opening a Fallout-themed pub featuring wait staff with Pip-Boys. She's written for big insurance companies, small wildlife control businesses, gourmet food chains, and more. Follow her on Twitter at @angelawest.