Amazon’s Glacier storage allows companies to archive a lot of data in the cloud. As a backup service it’s modestly priced ($0.01 per Gigabyte per month) and durable, but any data stored in its vaults can take hours to retrieve.
That’s led at least one analyst to recommend that businesses think very carefully about the types of data they send into Glacier’s deep freeze. “Glacier is not appropriate for backups for active chargeable data because it does not have the RTO (recovery-time objective) and RPO (recovery point objectives) that this data needs,” David Hill, an analyst with The Mesabi Group, wrote in a recent research note. “It might be useful for the backup of some active archive instances, but this would have to be carefully thought through.”
But that’s not stopping a smaller company, Pogoplug, from using Glacier as the basis for its own cloud storage service aimed at individuals and SMBs (small and midsize businesses). Pogoplug’s “Family” plan includes a $29-per-year option with unlimited private-cloud storage at home, along with 100GB of offsite cloud storage, as well as a $99-per-year option with 1TB of storage. The business-oriented “Team” plan, by contract, includes a customizable user interface and up to 5TB of offsite cloud storage; those plan options begin at $19 a month for five users and 1TB of storage, and go up to 25 users and the aforementioned 5TB of storage for $99 a month.
Because Pogoplug stores data locally in addition to mirroring it in the cloud, the service can rely on Amazon’s infrastructure for backup while sidestepping Glacier’s epic data-retrieval times. “Our new offering provides the missing link by eliminating the three to five hour retrieval time intrinsic to Glacier—making all content instantly accessible,” Daniel Putterman, CEO of Pogoplug, wrote in a Sept. 6 statement. “By keeping data synchronized between Amazon Glacier and a Pogoplug device in the home or office, we are offering unprecedented pricing for safe, fast cloud storage.”
Here’s how Pogoplug for businesses works: the user either purchases a Pogoplug device or else downloads the company’s software to a server or computer running Mac OS X or Windows. After that, the user or an IT administrator can enable archiving for those digital assets that need offsite cloud storage, and set up a customizable dashboard for management after that point.
The version for families is similar: connect Pogoplug device to router, download software and mobile apps for cloud backup, and then manage accounts via a Web or mobile-app dashboard.
For those who’re paranoid about storing all their data in the cloud without any sort of synchronized local backup, a service like Pogoplug can serve as an alternative to SkyDrive, Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (also known as Amazon S3), and Google Drive. However, the cloud-storage space is filling every day with companies offering the latest in terms of data backup, and more than a few might begin relying on Amazon Glacier—after all, if they can find a way around those slow data-retrieval times, the relatively low cost-per-Gigabyte means they can offer their own services at a cheaper rate. For businesses with a lot of proprietary data to store and analyze, that sort of model could turn out to be a very good thing.