Google Now Lets Users Mail in Hard Drives for Cloud Storage
Backing up large volumes of physically stored data onto the cloud can take days, weeks or even months, depending on the speed of a user's Internet connection. Rather than asking clients to take on that task on their own, Google is offering its Cloud Storage customers the option of sending physical storage media to partners that will upload it for them.
Google's new Offline Media Import/Export service is similar to Amazon Web Services' (AWS) Import/Export, which was first launched in 2009. Google is offering the service to North American customers in partnership with Iron Mountain, a Boston-based storage and information management company.
The new service not only provides a faster way for customers to import backup data into the cloud but offers them the convenience of delivering that data in the media of their choice, whether hard-disk drives, tapes, USB flash drive or something else, according to Google. The Media Import/Export service also ensures that information is encrypted during uploading, with the added option of chain-of-custody controls, Google said.
Uploads in Days Not Months
The new service is designed for companies that might currently be storing physical-media backup data on premises or in off-site facilities but could improve operations by moving that data to the cloud, product manager Ben Chong said yesterday in a post on the Google Cloud Platform Blog. It's especially useful for businesses that might be "limited to a slow, unreliable, or expensive Internet connection," he said.
Even with high-speed network services for businesses, upload speeds are generally significantly slower than download speeds. For a company with a 10 Mbps DSL plan, for instance, upload speeds might actually be somewhere between 768 Kbps and 1 Mbps, according to Chong. At that rate, uploading one terabyte of data could take more than 100 days, he said.
"This also assumes that no one else is using the same network connection," Chong noted. "With Offline Media Import/Export, this process can now be completed in days instead of months."
Service in More Regions 'Coming Soon'
Customers that want to transfer physically stored data into Google's cloud can do so by shipping their tapes or disks to storage partners like Iron Mountain via their preferred courier services. The storage providers will then upload the data via their own high-speed connections, after which they can return the physical storage devices, store them on site or destroy them, depending on the customers' requirements.
Google said similar service arrangements are coming soon for customers in Europe, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region.
In his post, Chong noted that the Offline Media Import/Export service is a "great complement" to Google's low-cost Cloud Storage Nearline service, which launched in March. That service is also similar to one offered by AWS: Amazon Glacier, which provides data archiving and online backup "for as little as $0.01 per gigabyte per month."
Neither Google nor Iron Mountain provided online details about prices for Offline Media Import/Export. Google also noted that the service is "a third-party solution" that requires customers to make their own arrangements, and that it is "not liable for the actions of any third-party service providers.