What is Amazon’s (AWS) “Glacier” storage solution?


Data storage has become one of the preeminent areas of focus and interest in recent times. Aside from the monumental piles of information that individual users are collectively adding to the internet on a daily basis, businesses and corporations too are accumulating data at a feverish pace. However, all data is now created equal; some bits and bytes are simply more useful than others. Amazon’s “Glacier” storage solution presents what is arguably the most cost effective approach for archiving rarely accessed data. Glacier Cloud Computing

Basically, Glacier allows you to get Gigabyte’s worth of storage space for pennies on the dollar (per month). In fact, Amazon is actually advertising 1 GB of storage per month at a cost of $0.01. This is assuming of course that you have the right type of data for the Glacier service and are looking for more of an archiving solution.

Who is the ideal Glacier user? Simply put, Glacier is not designed to facilitate conventional storage or bandwidth-heavy remote access for those building social media-like sites. The tradeoff for the ultra affordable cost of Glacier is its slower access speeds. Research organizations which routinely gather large volumes of data when carrying out studies are among the type of groups that might greatly benefit from Glacier. But it’s not just those in the scientific field that will be able to use this wonderful new solution, virtually any business that needs to store large amounts of data in the long-term will find Amazon’s new service to be “right up their alley”.

In terms of focus, Glacier isn’t about short-term planning, Amazon has already stated that this new approach to data archiving is designed to help maintain information throughout the century! That’s right, Amazon is taking big steps here, they might very well be laying the blueprints for something much bigger than we presently realize. As more and more corporations continue to expand, assimilate, monopolize and establish their long-term survivability, they also need comparable storage solutions that can also survive the ages. Glacier it seems is perfectly suited for organizations that have broader goals in mind which require more time to achieve.

However, there are still those who are vehemently challenging Amazon and Glacier, companies that specialize in data archiving in particular seem to be quite frightened. In the cloud computing world, businesses that concentrate on recovery and backup are fairly common and are often paired up with cloud vendors as well. The main fear is that Amazon will put all of these smaller organizations out of business, which could in turn greatly slow down development in those key areas. The reasoning behind this proposition is quite simple; everyone starts turning to Glacier because it’s really cheap and can act as a sort of backup solution, which in turn, slows down (or halts) the growth of businesses that are on the cutting edge of devising better recovery / backup solutions for cloud computing. In other words, while there will be a great short-term benefit in terms of lower costs, we might miss out on those new developments and/or applications of technology that would have been applied in the field of data recovery. Naturally, this is all speculative of course, but there is a definitive link between data archiving and backup / restoration that cannot be overlooked.  

For those that are eager to begin using Amazon’s Glacier service, any problems encountered will likely be due to transportation or migration of data. Basically, the hardest part of getting started with Glacier is going to be physically getting gigabyte’s worth of data into their infrastructure. You might very well have to spend extra on labor (large amounts of time spent uploading) and any bandwidth-related costs (from your cloud / internet / etc. provider(s). These types of unexpected costs can become quite high if we’re talking about really incredible amounts of data (multiple terabytes and so forth). Once again however, if long-term storage is an absolute necessity you’re not likely to find a more reasonably affordable solution than Glacier.


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