Cloud wars: AWS hits back at Google with SSD-backed block storage

aircraft-84231_640If you needed any more proof that Amazon Web Services sees Google’s pubic cloud as a serious threat to its market dominance, here it is. Just 24 hours after Google announced its new high I/O SSD drives to compete with AWS’ provisioned IOPS Elastic Block Store service, Amazon goes and announces a new general-purpose option for EBS.

EBS is Amazon’s way of offering persistent storage volumes which can be used alongside its EC2 cloud instances. Unlike the Provisioned IOPS volumes, Amazon’s new General Purpose (SSD) disks won’t come with any upfront or additional fees for input/output. Pricing depends on location – starting at $0.10 per GB in Amazon’s Oregon and Virginia data centers, although the company promises that it’ll be lower than the $0.325 per GB per month that Google charges for its own SSD drives.

According to Amazon’s blurb, its General Purpose (SSD) disks are capable of handling up to 3,000 input/output operations per second (IOPS) per volume for up to 30 minutes. These provisioned IOPS volumes can support up to 48,000 IOPS if connected, though very few apps would need that kind of capability.

Amazon adds that its SSD-based volumes are able to handle ten times more IOPS than its hard-drive based solutions, with more consistency and just 1/10th of the latency. It adds that because each newly created SSD-backed volume automatically recieves a 3,000 IOPS burst allocation, they should take less than half the time to boot than a magnetic disk does.

“With the introduction of EBS General Purpose (SSD) volumes today, SSD technology can now be applied to a much broader range of use cases at a lower cost while also delivering high IOPS, low latency, and high bandwidth,” said Peter De Santis, VP for Compute at Amazon Web Services, in a prepared statement.

The announcement is the second time in recent weeks that AWS has moved swiftly in response to aggression by its competitor Google, having done a similar thing when Google slashed its cloud prices. This suggests that either Google knows in advance of what Amazon is planning and times its moves to annoy them, or Amazon just can’t stand being seen as inferior in any way, and feels compelled to respond immediately to any advantage its rivals gain.

In any case, it seems that Gartner’s warning that Google (along with Microsoft) presents a growing threat to Amazon’s cloud has some truth to it. But it’ll be some time before anyone can dethrone the cloud kings. On top of its SSD block storage announcement, Amazon took the opportunity to cut its prices again. The cost of its IOPS in EBS is now 35 percent cheaper than before.

Your move, Google.

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