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How the top cloud storage vendors stack up for backup

Don't pick a cloud storage and backup vendor just because you've heard it's reputable. We lay out the features you need to compare among the Big Three providers.

Shifting to cloud backup and storage is a big decision. You're putting your organization's most critical data, applications and systems into a cloud environment that needs to meet your needs. Speed, availability, cost, redundancy and more all come into play when deciding which cloud storage provider should host your backups.

The industry's three largest cloud storage vendors -- Microsoft, Amazon and Google -- dominate the marketplace with strong offerings to facilitate cloud backups. But how do you decide which one to choose?

Compare Microsoft, Google and Amazon

There are minimal differences among the cloud storage vendors -- some so small they probably won't be enough to persuade you to go with a particular one.

  • Amazon has some very strong storage management capabilities. If policy-based automatic movement of data is desired, Simple Storage Service may be more to your liking.
  • Google offers the most consistent first-byte retrieval time (in milliseconds). Even recovery from its Coldline storage begins almost immediately. The other vendors take hours to get your recovery from their coldest tier started.
  • If redundancy options as part of your cloud storage are of interest, Amazon offers not only competing options, but also reduced functionality options, such as its One Zone-IA storage and Reduced Redundancy Storage.

The following comparison matrix details how the major cloud storage providers stack up against each other.

cloud backup and storage providers comparison

Consider pricing, other services and clouds

In general, the major cloud storage vendors are extremely close to one another. So, as you plan your cloud strategy, how do you choose which cloud backup and storage provider is right for you?

Here are some additional considerations to help you find your way through the clouds:

The industry's three largest cloud storage vendors -- Microsoft, Amazon and Google -- dominate the marketplace with strong offerings to facilitate cloud backups. But how do you decide which one to choose?
  • Ingress/storage/egress pricing. Take a deep look at the pricing of each vendor. Don't just stop with "Oh, it's free to upload as much data as I want! Great!" You need to see what it's going to charge you on the recovery end as well. All of the providers have documented pricing tables. Amazon has a particularly impressive but complicated pricing calculator. Take advantage of all the pricing data you can, as you need to have a solid idea of what your backup plan -- which includes the tiers of storage you may use -- will cost you.
  • Other services. Take a look at the other nonstorage services offered, as they may come in handy either at backup or recovery time. For example, each offers the hosting of virtual machines (VMs). This may be an option for you during recovery that serves two purposes. First, it speeds up your recovery time since you don't need to bring the data down to a local network. Second, it should reduce any egress fees to zero for those VMs you spun up in the provider's cloud.
  • Consider the nonmega-clouds. There are plenty of other cloud storage vendors vying for your business. And to compete, most of them offer additional services, like backup software, expert planning and execution, recovery assistance and even "white glove" recovery.

As you consider shifting to a cloud backup and storage platform, it's critical to not just pick a vendor because it's reputable. There are a ton of service options that affect pricing and service delivery. So, take some time, do your homework and find the service that best aligns with your business requirements and pocketbook.

This was last published in September 2018

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Which cloud storage provider do you think offers the best backup options, and why?
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Amazon Web Services hands down
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