Cloud Data Movement Comes at a Cost

Unexpected cost and complexity top the list of unexpected outcomes when it comes to storing and managing data in the cloud. Many organizations end up storing far more data in the cloud than they initially anticipated. This leads to unexpected, recurring cost overruns that may grow month after month resulting in organizations far exceeding their annual cloud budgets. Moving data within and out of the cloud represent some of these hidden, unexpected costs that organizations do not always anticipate.

The “Gotchas”

baby gotchaOrganizations may assume that once they tier their data in the cloud, they can both better control their storage costs and forecast future costs. However, the “gotchas” of using storage tiers do not necessarily show up when organizations store data on these tiers. These storage tiers have predictable per GB monthly rates derived from the amount of data stored on them.
The “gotchas” show up when organizations move data within or out of the cloud. Data movements may incur data transfer fees that can vary significantly and become nearly impossible to accurately estimate in advance. Consider the following data access and movement fees for which organizations must account.

Data Transfer Charges

General-purpose cloud service providers such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft charge anywhere from $0.01/GB to $0.09/GB ($1.00 to $9.00/TB) to move data. They charge these fees any time organizations move data across the provider’s network to another region and out of the provider’s cloud. They even charge to move data to another availability zone within a region. These data movement fees represent charges that may unexpectedly drive up a monthly bill.

LevelOld PriceNew Price
First 10 TB per month$0.17/GB$0.15/GB
Next 40 TB per month$0.13$0.11
Next 100 TB per month$0.11$0.09
Over 150 TB per month$0.10$0.08

Amazon’s updated data transfer fees as of 2/1/2020.
The differences in data transfer fees stem from a few factors. Organizations will incur different data movement fees based on numerous variables. Variables that influence these move fees include:

  • The amount of data transferred
  • Transferring data within or across regions
  • Transferring data within or outside availability zone
  • Transferring data inside or outside the provider’s cloud.

These variables coupled with the unknown timing of these data moves make it difficult to accurately estimate and forecast data transfer costs.

API / Data Request Fees

General-purpose cloud service providers charge for API calls such as write actions (PUT/COPY/POST) and read actions (GET). Translated, the provider tallies up every data object or file that an organization retrieves, moves, saves, and/or copies. These actions can quickly add up behind the scenes. Again, organizations rarely can reliably predict or control these activities since they may vary greatly from month to month.

Egress Fees

Cloud providers charge up to nine cents per GB for data transferred out of the cloud, between regions, or even between availability zones. Organizations incur these egress fees regardless of the storage tier from which they retrieve their data.

Data Retrieval Fees

Organizations may incur data retrieval fees in addition to whatever other data request and egress fees they incur. They incur these fees if retrieving data from lower cost storage tiers such as AWS Glacier. These fees range from a one cent to three cents per GB. The final cost per GB will depend upon the amount of data they retrieve, from which tier they retrieve it, and how quickly they retrieve it.

Easy Cloud Access ≠ Easy Data Management

General-purpose cloud providers increasingly make it very easy for organizations to store data in their clouds. However, easy to store in their cloud does not automatically equate to economical or easy management once stored there.
Failing to put some thought into the availability zone, region, or storage tier on which one initially stores data can result in unexpected data movements and their associated costs down the road. To avoid these costs, organizations should pursue one of two options. They should more carefully plan where they place data with a general-purpose cloud provider and on which tier. Alternatively, they may consider one of the new second-generation cloud providers that only offer one tier of storage and do not charge data movement fees.

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