By Barry Levine / Data Storage Today. Updated August 21, 2012.
Until global climate change hit, glaciers could be counted on to last a really long time from now. Amazon is hoping that this time-worn brand image of glaciers is the one envisioned when potential customers hear about its new data archival service, Amazon Glacier.
It is designed to be a very low cost, highly secure and durable storage service for backup and archiving. The company said that, in order to keep costs low, the service is optimized for data that is infrequently accessed and retrieved over several hours. Large or small amounts of storage can be obtained for 1 cent per gigabyte per month.
'Overpay for Data Archiving'
In announcing Glacier, Amazon said companies "typically overpay for data archiving." This includes a substantial upfront payment for archiving on premises, without counting ongoing operational costs like power, facilities or staffing.
Additionally, the giant retailer and hosting service said, companies often have to guess as to what their capacity requirements might be -- and, to make sure they have enough space for future growth, they usually overbuy. Amazon said the result is, often, underused capacity and wasted spending.
Glacier, by contrast, has no upfront payment, a low ongoing payment for storage, and the ability to immediately scale up or down as needed. However, while the new service will allow five percent of the stored data to be retrieved each month for free, additional amounts will come with a data charge that starts at 12 cents per gigabyte. There is also an early deletion fee if data is removed within three months of its upload.
Data to Glacier is transferred over Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), and the service automatically encrypts stored data using the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256. Data can be controlled by the user via Amazon Web Services (AWS) Identify and Access Management. Organizations can use a single account to manage multiple users, and can set resource-access policies.
Just in case "glacier" conjures up a melting pile of ice that is raising sea levels, Amazon points out that their service provides an average annual durability of 99.999999999 percent. Data is stored redundantly in multiple facilities, and on multiple devices in each facility.
The company also notes that, unlike other storage services requiring labor-intensive data verification and manual repair, Glacier uses systematic data integrity checks and can automatically enact self-healing measures.
There's no limit to the amount of data that can be stored, and a user can choose to store in a given Amazon Glacier region because of regulatory, policy or personal requirements. Currently, Glacier is available on data centers in northern Virginia, Oregon, Northern California, Ireland, and Tokyo.
The service is also designed to integrate with Amazon's growing portfolio of hosted offerings. AWS Import/Export can be used to accelerate the transfer of large amounts of data via portable storage devices. Within a few months, Amazon Simple Storage Service, or S3, will be introducing an option for moving data seamlessly between S3 and Glacier, using company policies established around data lifecycles.
Amazon hasn't specified what kind of storage hardware will be used. The company has told news media that it will not be tape libraries, can be seen "as a replacement for tape," and will utilize "inexpensive commodity hardware components."