Every now and then I get the question: why does Unitrends charge $0.25/GB/month  for its cloud service when I can buy cloud storage for less than that from Google, AWS, Azure, and other cloud services?  It’s a great question – with a pretty simple and compelling answer.

Google, AWS, and Azure all sell inexpensive cloud based storage for a series of fees based on combinations (depending upon the vendor) of input, output, storage used, compute used (if any), and other factors.  For that, you get to push your local data through your WAN via a RESTful protocol to a series of “buckets” of cloud storage.  When you need your data, you need to pull data back from those “buckets” of cloud storage via a RESTful protocol through your WAN back to your local data.

Depending upon the on-premise to cloud software used, you have various amounts of what is called WO/WA(WAN Optimization / WAN Acceleration) that is going on.  The best possible WAN optimization and acceleration occurs when you have computation going on at the source (your on-premise appliance) and at the target (the replication target.)

Pretty technical, huh?  Let’s simplify. The primary reason for the difference in cost is the difference in functionality.  A cloud service allows the transfer of backup data from your on-premise device to a location in the cloud.  When you need that data, you’re going to be at the mercy of the WAN bandwidth between where you’re recovering that data and where it is stored on some server within the cloud.  For those cloud providers that offer physical shipment of your data to you (which is the fastest way to transfer a few terabytes typically), the SLAs (Service Level Agreements) of the cloud providers are “flexible” – which is a nice way of saying that they aren’t guaranteed.  In addition, there are different policies by different cloud vendors regarding things like seeding – or putting terabytes of data into the cloud quickly using physical media rather than waiting weeks or even months for the first backup to be replicated into the cloud.

The Unitrends cloud has very strict SLAs and coupled with our support offerings enables you to receive a fully loaded new appliance very quickly.  It also handles both source-level and replication target-level deduplication to optimize WAN bandwidth as much as possible and to reduce the storage load – in other words, you’re getting not just storage but compute in our cloud.

With all of this said, here’s the way to get some of the cheapest possible cloud storage with Unitrends.  Sign up for a Dropbox business account, which is $795 per year for unlimited storage (because you only need one user on the account.)  Set up a computer with a NAS share, install Dropbox and point it to the NAS share, archive to the mounted NAS share from the Unitrends appliance using our D2D2D (Disk-to-Disk-to-Disk) archiving functionality, and let Dropbox replicate that to the Dropbox cloud.

This gives you two things: Fast archive recovery from the local Dropbox-based computer with the NAS, and your backup archives put into the cloud at a ridiculously low price.  How low a price?  If I’m backing up 5TB a year, I’m doing so at a price of less than 1.4 cents/terabyte; 10TB is at a price of less than 0.7 cents/terabyte.

This works with any integrated cloud storage provider that allows sufficient file size to handle tertiary backups.  The negative is of course that your WAN bandwidth isn’t as optimized as it would be for another solution.  And if you lose your local premise, it’s going to take a long time to recover that data (depending upon your WAN bandwidth.)

Let us know if you know of other tips and tricks for “absolutely lowest cost cloud storage without regard for RTO (Recovery Time Objective) or RPO (Recovery Point Objective.)”