For Nonessential Data, Google Offers Storage on the Cheap

International New York Times, March 17, 2015 | Go to article overview

For Nonessential Data, Google Offers Storage on the Cheap


Also: Bento wants to be your app matchmaker; Google offers cheap storage for certain kinds of data.

Google is offering a new kind of data storage service -- and revealing its cloud computing strategy against Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

The company said last week that it would offer a service, called Nearline, for nonessential data. Like an Amazon product called Glacier, this storage costs just a penny a month per gigabyte. Microsoft's cheapest listed online storage is about 2.4 cents a gigabyte.

While Glacier storage has a retrieval time of several hours, though, Google said Nearline data would be available in about three seconds.

Three seconds, in an online world, is an eternity for something like serving a web page. Nearline data would, however, be suitable for data analysis as well as long-term storage.

The name is meant to evoke the idea of being nearly online at all times. It is also meant to move easily into other Google storage products, with subsecond data retrieval. That could make it a way to sell more expensive storage, as well as more analytics tools.

"It's not about storage, it's about what you'll do with analytics," said Tom Kershaw, director of product management for the Google Cloud Platform. "Never delete anything, always use data -- it's what Google does."

Recently, Google has offered several data analysis products to customers. The chief one for business, called Big Query, is for analyzing large sets of data. Another product, Data Flow, is in limited release and should become broadly available in a few months. It prepares large amounts of data for specific types of analyses, like sorting medical records for a certain gender and age.

Existing consumer services, like Dropbox, charge about $10 a month to store a terabyte of data, the same price as Nearline and Glacier. In reality, those businesses count on most of their customers storing well below their limit.

While Microsoft has also been increasing its analytics offerings, Google wants companies to store every type of digital data, in perpetuity, Mr. Kershaw said.

"Real-time intelligence is only as good as the data you can put against it," he said. "Think how different Google would be if we couldn't see all of the analytics around Mother's Day for the last 15 years." QUENTIN HARDY

Bento, the matchmaker

If you are like most people, there are but two reasons you pick up your mobile phone. The first is when you want to do something specific, like send an email. The second is when you are bored. Nikhil Chandhok wants to figure out which it is.

Last week, Mr. Chandhok, a former product manager at YouTube who later worked at Google's venture capital arm, revealed his new start- up, Bento, a mobile application that aims to become the first place people go when they pick up their mobile phones. The company has received $2 million in venture capital from investors like First Round Capital, Social&Capital and Google Ventures.

The app, which is available only on phones running Google's Android software, is a kind of second home screen in which the familiar gridlike structure of icons has been replaced with a stream of "cards" that shuffle around based on what it thinks you want to do. Bento's pitch is that, over time, it can get to know you better than you do, by juggling music, food recommendations or cab services like Uber.

As if anyone needed a reminder, mobile phones contain a fearful amount of information about people and their habits. But because apps have limited access to your data, each new app has to acquaint itself with each new user. …

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For Nonessential Data, Google Offers Storage on the Cheap
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