Varnaby.Com Blog

Let's Talk About Elastic Cloud Hosting Storage Costs

If you ever calculate the cost of a cloud server with 1 vCPU, 2 GB RAM but 1 TB of storage, you will run in to a headache quickly.

Why is this?

We believe here that storage makes up most of the costs, and can bring unpredictable costs along with it, for the following reasons:-
* You may be charged to read/write (IOPS) to the storage
* It may be tiered for performance
* It may be tiered for HA (High Availability)
* It may be tiered for DR (Disaster Recovery)
* It is dense when requesting 1 TB
* Your costs are unlikely to be reduced based on more volume
* Storage has to be elastic

There also exists a balance issue, which is most important in this case.  A hosting company simply does not know if a customer will come along requesting this specific VPS we are talking about here.  Storage takes up lots of space in the datacentre and is quite limited, a host would have to specialise in storage alone to be able to keep prices low.  This would inevitably lead to higher costs for high CPU/RAM demands, regardless of the size of the host.  Finally, Cloud technology and technology alone allows customers to move around providers easily, so given the procurement of resources to add to the pool, it is not in a hosts interest to have spare resources lying around doing nothing in the case they become vacant, there are electricity and density costs to associate with all of this.

Storage is arriving in different forms as well, Object Storage is the latest, where a chuck of data (BLOB) is stored with a unique ID/key, these are normally the types of storage where you are billed differently and in many ways.

You may only be billed for writing to storage, even if it is one-time, and at that point it doesn't matter how much data is stored. At the end of the day, the "Object" is of a fixed size, it was "written", and yes it may just have been archived for the possibility of later being retrieved. If this data has not been "touched" for some time, the storage systems will automatically compress, de-duplicate and store this BLOB in a low-tier archive, a cost-effective approach for the operator.

In some respects, "Object Storage" could be a gamble for an IT project such as an online backup or archiving service, because if a third party happens to perform many IOPS against that archive at any given moment, forecasts will become defunct and transaction costs will start to pile up!

Hosted Cloud Storage is another form of storage online that is quite dynamic, but again the pricing models are extremely different. Billing for this is performed via a few options:-
* Writes
* Reads
* Data Stored by Day/Week/Month/Year
* Data in compressed/inflated form differences
* White-space being billed as in-use
* Bandwidth fluctuations
* Replication features
* Redundancy features
* Deduplication features

These are usually features that are highly bragged about, it's always clear what you are signing up for and if you are ever on the prowl for a storage solution, you will quickly find yourself comparing a few different providers with a fine eye. Beware: Black swan events in the future may see you billed for things you never considered!

The dynamics that come with Hosted Cloud Storage are extremely useful. For example, we at varnaby offer NFS, iSCSI, AFP, FTP, SSH/SFTP as our core protocols and almost any device is able to connect to our servers from anywhere, from a bespoke client to the operating system disk manager. We aren't offering anything special though.

It's quite brilliant because if a VPS server we host requires an additional disk for offloading low-tier bulk data such as logs, backups or attachments, we can simply map this cloud storage volume to our VPS using the hypervisor, it then appears as a locally attached disk on the VPS.

As of this very moment (November 2017) we're not offering anything special, in order to keep the price low, there currently is no replication or regular backups. We ARE using RAID5 in virtual mode for DR purposes, so a disk failure can be tolerated, but it would result in a short outage.

We will be clear, and we know for a fact, without mentioning any names, that some providers simply do not perform what they are contractually obliged to perform with third party data stored on their systems, from time to time these disasters do strike and third parties lose all or some of their data in the end :(.

We have a service that is suitable for the following use cases:-
A general off-site backup location
A public/private file sharing or distribution point
A log archive
Where there are concerns about IOPS and inflation/deflation/de-duplication/replication costs
Apple Time Machine Backups
Where data loss or availability risk can be accepted in the rare event of a disaster

The same applies to all services from all providers - they may become unavailable for any reason at any time.

More to come on this later...........


We are a relatively new hosting company on the web, residing in London and established in 2015, by a group of highly experienced computing professionals who have worked in some of the most complex datacentre environments in the UK.

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