The Cost of Switching Cloud Storage Providers

Jeff Byrne, Senior Analyst & Consultant


As the public cloud landscape has been reduced to three major players, customer concerns about lock-in have been growing. Whereas this concern barely registered on IT professionals’ radar five years ago, it has become a very real issue for many customers, whether they’re looking to deploy primary storage in the cloud for the first time, or considering what new workloads might go there.

One of the big reasons for IT managers’ discomfort is the cost of migrating data out of a cloud storage repository, either back to on-premises storage or to another provider’s storage service. We summarized the switching costs in a recent Storage Magazine article, which we’ve excerpted here:

You will incur two or three categories of cost when you migrate your cloud data to a new provider (costs quoted are based on providers’ published pricing as of January 2017):

(1) Data transfer out (egress) costs from current provider. This cost is based on the amount of data you transfer out of the provider’s site to the Internet. Major providers such as AWS and Azure are currently charging US customers between 7 cents and 9 cents per GB for the first 150 TB of data transferred out per month, except for the first 1-5 GB, which are free. Each provider has set up discount tiers, and the amount per GB declines progressively as the amount of data crosses to the next tier. AWS also offers transfer acceleration for an additional 4 cents per GB, in cases where a customer chooses to speed up the transfer by routing through a less congested edge location.

(2) Data transfer in (ingress) costs charged by new provider. None of the major providers currently charges for incoming data transfer and upload, regardless of the amount of data being moved. We don’t see this changing in the near future, but you should confirm this before initiating a transfer to a new storage service.

(3) Costs of actually moving the data. Whether you are transferring data electronically or via physical means, you will incur a cost. In the former case, the major cost will be based on bandwidth consumed, with a provider surcharge for port speed if you transfer via VPN tunneling. If you transfer data via physical hard drive, you will pay for the media and mail/courier services to send it to the destination provider. You will incur a surcharge if you elect to use one of the emerging appliance-based transfer services. And of course, if you utilize a third party tool or service, you’ll pay for those separately.

Helpfully, major cloud providers and selected ISVs offer online cost calculators or guidelines to help you to estimate data transfer costs ahead of time. If you do your homework upfront, you can reduce the risk of getting locked in to your chosen cloud provider, while also minimizing migration costs should you need to make a switch in the future.

Published by Jeff Byrne

Jeff brings to Taneja Group more than 25 years of marketing and operational experience at a variety of infrastructure software, systems and semiconductor companies. He focuses on all flavors of cloud and virtualization technologies, and also covers the intersection of these technologies with various types of storage. Jeff develops and leads primary research initiatives to help vendors better understand market trends and customer requirements, and in response, to adapt their products, solutions and messaging to more effectively address IT buyers’ needs. Jeff advises clients on issues ranging from product and competitive positioning to messaging and go-to-market programs, and helps companies to work through challenging product and technology transitions. Prior to joining Taneja Group, Jeff spent five years as Vice President of Marketing and later Vice President of Corporate Strategy at VMware, a leading provider of virtualization, cloud and mobility solutions acquired by EMC in 2004. Earlier in his career, Jeff held senior management positions at DG Systems, Dataquest, MIPS, and HP. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Math and Computational Sciences from Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard.

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