The next step in Google's cloud-based services expansion is User Managed Storage, which allows customers to save up to 16 terabytes of data without new software or hardware. A terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes, or one trillion bytes.
User Managed Storage is intended to appeal to consumers and businesses alike, with the cost to save 20 gigabytes of data only $5 a year and the maximum cost for the 16TB limit is $4,096 a year. There is no option for unlimited storage.
Docs and Photos, But Not Mail
"As more and more people discover the power and flexibility of creating and collaborating using nothing but the web, an increasing volume of user content is stored in the cloud," wrote Gaurav Jain, product manager for Google Apps, on the official Enterprise Blog Tuesday.
The service that previously allowed users to extend the memory allowance for personal Google accounts will be extended to apps such as Google Docs, Picasa Web Albums, and photos from Blogger. But it won't be available for Gmail, which is still limited to 7.5 gigabytes.
User Managed Storage can be enabled or disabled by domain administrators. End users can purchase additional storage using their Google Checkout account, but the storage allocation can't be pooled or transferred to another Google Apps user account. Data stored using User Managed Storage is subject to the same ownership policy as other data in the Google Apps account.
The announcement comes as Google is struggling with the aftereffects of an embarrassing Gmail outage that has affected as many as 150,000 users since Sunday. A software update was blamed for the snafu. Gmail is believed to have around 200 million user accounts.
That glitch could affect public confidence in the search giant at a time when the growing trend toward storage stockpiling is bumping up against concerns about security and malfunctions.
"Given that Google just lost tons of e-mail, using this storage for a repository clearly has its risks," said Rob Enderele, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. "Google just doesn't seem serious about the quality of their offerings, and selling storage is like selling deposit boxes -- you lead with reliability, you follow with price. No one would want a safe deposit box that cost pennies a month and consisted of a paper bag on a sidewalk."
Cloud storage is on the rise. A survey by Storage Magazine recently found that 23 percent of respondents use clouds for primary or nearline storage, up from 14 percent last spring. And Mozy, the world's largest online storage company, with more than a million users, recently stopped offering unlimited storage for $4.95 as it had done since 2006 because demand surged 50 percent in the past year. The maximum is now $9.95 for 125 gigabytes.
Enderle advised that cloud storage should be reserved only for expendable data. "It simply isn't reliable enough to bet your job on regardless of the price," he said.