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Do services from different cloud archiving providers vary greatly? Or are the options fairly similar at this point?
This question could be asked another way: Are cloud archiving software applications the same? And are cloud service providers that offer archive storage all the same? I'll answer both.
Cloud archiving software solutions vary greatly depending on what you are trying to archive. Cloud storage solutions that offer archive also vary greatly. Common differentiators are cost, recovery time as well as data redundancy.
Selecting an archiving product that can archive to the cloud will have two primary decision points. First, what are you trying to archive? A specific application or a file system? Your first step will be to select a software application that interfaces directly to what you need to archive and decide if it meets your demands from that perspective. Secondly, you will need to review how it integrates with the cloud and what cloud services it will integrate with. The latter question sets up our next area of discussion, selecting a cloud destination.
As mentioned above, the providers that offer a cloud archive tend to compete on price, recovery time and data redundancy. Most customers will, of course, focus on price. It is also important to understand not only the cost to store the data, but also the cost to retrieve it. Some providers charge a premium for data downloaded from their cloud. Also, cloud vendors like Amazon are now offering services where data is stored on tape. Under this model, costs may be reduced significantly; however, the time it takes to retrieve and download the data will be significantly delayed. Again, those factors need to be carefully weighed.
Finally, the number of copies of data stored in the cloud needs to be factored into the decision as well. Most cloud providers include a mirrored copy of your data but not all do, so this needs to be confirmed up front. If more redundancy is required, you need to negotiate that with your provider.