SpiderOak takes on Amazon S3 in archival storage

SpiderOak says its new cloud storage service will offer consumers and businesses a cheaper way to archive their data. Yes, cheaper than Amazon(s amzn).

When it comes to storing cold data — the stuff that companies offloaded to tape — the need for speed is not paramount. Businesses just have to make sure their stuff is safe for when they need it. It is SpiderOak’s view that Amazon charges too much for that kind of storage.

The service will cost $0.06 per GB — including  both data transport and storage costs. That is roughly half as much as Amazon’s S3 cloud storage service, which starts at $0.125 for 1TB/month, with the price falling as volume rises. But there is also an associated data transfer cost after 1GB of data transferred of $0.120 per GB/month up to total 1 TB/month. (Amazon does offer a free storage tier for new customers for a year.)

While Amazon is undoubtedly the behemoth here, it is not necessarily the price leader even though it did lower S3 pricing a few weeks ago. Backblaze, another lean-and-mean competitor, also prices its storage below Amazon s3.

SpiderOak which has offered storage and backup services since 2007,  decided there was a need to attack archival storage specifically.  “We define [archival] as data where the latency requirements for reads are not severe. A lot of people use S3 just for back-up purposes or for very large file storage,” said SpiderOak CTO Alan Fairless. “With most backup jobs you don’t care if it takes 15 minutes versus milliseconds,” he said. He did take exception to the tape analogy, however. “We’re a lot faster than that,” he said.

“We see the world as not necessarily leaving S3 completely, but we feel people are overpaying for their archival class data. It’s not accessed that often, so there’s no reason to pay S3 the additional money for that data,” said SpiderOak CEO Ethan Oberman.

Oberman also stressed the company’s strict privacy stance. “Under no circumstances can we view our customer data in any way, and that invisibility has been important in the enterprise market. Our competitors can’t make those claims,” he said.

The company hosts two data centers, in Chicago and Kansas City, for its services. will be available as both a commercial product and an open source project under the GNU Affero General Public License version 3 (AGPL). The client libraries, benchmark and testing code are covered by the GNU Lesser General Public License.

Amazon will remain the kingpin in cloud-based storage (as of the end of 2011, it claimed 762 billion objects stored on S3), but given the number of outside cloud storage providers that keep surfacing, it looks like the explosion of data being generated can float all those boats.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user mcfarlandmo