In the age of the cloud, the relationship between cloud storage capacity and I/O performance has officially become divorced.
Case in point is an announcement from IBM today that the IBM SoftLayer unit is now making available Endurance and Performance options for Block Storage and File Storage for bare metal and virtual servers.
IBM SoftLayer CTO Marc Jones concedes that IBM SoftLayer is not the first cloud service provider to make this distinction. But at a time when IT organizations are looking to the cloud to both archive data and provide access to high performance applications the time had come for IBM to clearly define cloud storage services for both what are clearly different types of use cases for cloud storage.
In the case of IBM SoftLayer, multiple Endurance tiers allow customers to choose from 20GB to 12TB of storage at a starting price of 15 cents per GB.
On the Performance service, pricing for 20GB to 12TB of storage with user-selectable IOPS ranging from 100 to 6,000 is priced starting at ten cents per GB and 12 cents per IOP.
Obviously, for most Tier One applications IOPs is the primary metric that matters, which these days is usually attained by combining solid-state drives (SSDs) and high performance magnetic storage. When it comes to secondary and tertiary storage, the metric that matters more is the cost per GB.
For solution providers across the channel, those price points serve to illustrate how inexpensive storage in the cloud has become. Unless there is a major compelling compliance or security concern, selling secondary storage systems that reside on premise is becoming a major challenge. IT organizations still tend to prefer to run high performance applications on their own private cloud, but there are also plenty of instances where high performance applications have also already moved into the cloud. As customers get more familiar with those option it’s becoming more challenging to ask for even $1 per GB for on premise storage.
Of course, customers don’t always appreciate what goes into making storage systems actually work. But it's clear that based on current pricing trends that solution providers need to separate the cost of their expertise from the cost of the storage systems itself. In fact, solution providers would probably do well not to talk about the cost of storage at all. Instead, they would be better off just tucking those costs inside a larger storage management service.
After all, storage in the cloud may never be completely free, but it sure looks like it’s becoming the next best thing closest to it.