When Amazon announced Glacier I took the trouble to read their pricing information
carefully and wrote:
Because the cost penalties for peak access to storage and for small
requests are so large ..., if Glacier is not to be significantly more expensive
than local storage in the long term preservation systems that use it
will need to be carefully designed to rate-limit accesses and to request
data in large chunks.
Now, 40 months later, Simon Sharwood at The Register
reports that people who didn't pay attention are shocked that using Glacier can cost more in a month than enough disk to store the data 60 times over
Last week, a chap named Mario Karpinnen took to Medium with a tale of how downloading 60GB of data from Amazon Web Services' archive-grade Glacier service cost him a whopping US$158.
Karpinnen went into the fine print of Glacier pricing
and found that the service takes your peak download rate, multiplies
the number of gigabytes downloaded in your busiest hour for the month
and applies it to every hour of the whole month. His peak data retrieval
rate of 15.2GB an hour was therefore multiplied by the $0.011 per
gigabyte charged for downloads from Glacier. And then multiplied by the
744 hours in January. Once tax and bandwidth charges were added, in came
the bill for $158.
Karpinnen's post is a cautionary tale for Glacier believers, but the real problem is he didn't look the gift horse in the mouth
But doing the math (and factoring in VAT and the higher prices at AWS’s
Irish region), I had the choice of either paying almost $10 a month for
the simplicity of S3 or just 87¢/mo for what was essentially the same
He should have asked himself how Amazon could afford to sell "essentially the same thing" for one-tenth the price. Why wouldn't all their customers switch? I asked myself this in my post on the Glacier announcement
In order to have a competitive product in the
the long-term storage market Amazon had to develop a new one, with a
different pricing model. S3 wasn't competitive.
As Sharwood says:
Karpinnen's post and Oracle's
carping about what it says about AWS both suggest a simple moral to
this story: cloud looks simple, but isn't, and buyer beware applies
every bit as much as it does for any other product or service.
The fine print was written by the vendor's lawyers. They are not your friends.
The adage is that people are not interested in backups - they are interested in restores. The evil genius of Glacier is that it charges you an arm and a leg for precisely that which you value...
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