Category Archives: Storage

AWS S3 and IBM Object Storage- which one is better ?

IBM object storage is based on OpenStack Swift technology. You can use Swift APIs or one of the language clients to control Object Storage objects. Swift functions as a distributed, API-accessible storage platform that can be integrated directly into applications or used to store files like VM images, backups, and archives as well as photos and videos.

Since, IBM’s Object Storage is based on the Swift, all the APIs which work with Swift work in IBM’s Object Storage.

Architecturally, both AWS S3 and IBM SoftLayer Object Storage is same. Once you create an account, you then have to create a container which hold objects you define. You can create sub-folders and nest folders ( folder with in a folder) in a container.

The only differentiating factor then remain is “Pricing“.

How IBM SoftLayer charges for Object Storage :

IBM Softlayer Object storage pricing is relatively easier to understand and predictable. It charges only the following components:

  1. Storage used per GB per month
  2. Bandwidth

The storage pricing includes all types of requests to the object storage.

How AWS S3 charges for S3 ?

You can get started with AWS S3 for free. Upon sign-up, new AWS customers receive 5 GB of Amazon S3 standard storage, 20,000 Get Requests, 2,000 Put Requests, and 15GB of data transfer out each month for one year.

After the free tier usage AWS charges for

  1. Storage
  2. Requests to storage
  3. Data Transfer

For more details on the pricing, refer to this link.

Which is cheaper – IBM SoftLayer or AWS S3 ?

I used AWS simple monthly calculator and IBM TCO calculator to compare the prices of under the following assumptions :

  1. US Datacenter
  2. 2TB Object storage
  3. 200 GB out bond data
  4. 10,000 requests of PUT/COPY/POST/LIST Requests and GET and Other Requests

The price for IBM SofLayer Object Storage comes out to be : $98 USD

AWS S3 price is $76.06 USD

A few points to note:

  1. AWS prices is not completely predictable. Each requests are charged and further more, even the storage is further divided in to infrequent access storage and reduced redundancy storage.
  2. The definition of both infrequent access storage and reduced redundancy storage is not clear, which makes it even more difficult to predict the total bill by using AWS monthly calculator
  3. In AWS inter-region data transfer is charged, where as intra-region data transfer is free
  4. AWS provides basic tech supports which covers mainly billing related issues, where as IBM’s tech support is completely free. However, for object storage tech support requirement is not essential and it can easily be ignored.


AWS S3 comes out to be cheaper than IBM SoftLayer Object storage if we consider the above parameters.

Storage Services in AWS

AWS offers following storage services :

  1. AWS S3 – This is the object storage in AWS Cloud
  2. CloudFront The CDN service of AWS. It makes content delivery faster
  3. Amazon EBS : Network Attached Storage volumes for your VMs
  4. Amazon Glacier  : Low Cost Archival storage

Let’s take a quick look in each of the offering :

AWS S3 : The primary uses of object storage are, backing up the data, storing images and videos which can either be accessed directly or through CDN, and store contents of static websites. The most common Amazon products used with AWS S3 are :

  1. Amazon EC2 :
  2. Amazon Elastic MapReduce :
  3. Amazon SQS
  4. Amazon CloudFront :
  5. Amazon DevPay :

AWS S3 pricing : AWS pricing has following components :

  1. Storage Pricing
  2. Request pricing:
  3. Data transfer pricing

AWS CloudFront : Is the CDN service of AWS. This is mostly use in case of faster downloading and frequently access of data by the user. You either create a distribution or an HTTP server which act as an origin. When a user request the data, it first search in cahce. If it’s not available in cache, the request then goes to origin server.

Amazon EBS :  EBS stands for Elastic Block storage. You can consider this as a HDD attached to your laptop. The only difference is that it’s on the network. One EBS can be used with only one EC2 instance. But multiple EBS volumes can be attached to a single EC2 instance.

Most common usage includes acting as a primary storage for a database  or a filesystem. AWS offers 4 types of EBS:

  • EBS General Purpose – charged based on the amount you provision in GB per month
  • EBS Provisioned IOPS: charged based on data provisioned and IOPS
  • EBS Magnetic:
  • EBS Snapshot

Amazon Glacier : It’s the archival storage offering. It’s used when data is not going to be accessed frequently also known as “cold data” and latency is a major concern.

How does the pricing work ?

It has three components :

  1. Storage pricing – There is no further break up. Simple – it starts with $0.007
  2. Request pricing – Like other storage services AWS charges you for
    1. UPLOAD and RETRIEVAL Requests
    2. Data Retrieval – AWS charges you if you retrieve more than 5% of the data stored. So if you have stored let’s say 10 GB, then after 500 MB you would be charged at $0.001
  3. Data transfer pricing – In Bound data is not charged, if your EC2 is in not in the same region as Glacier, you will be charged and data from Glacier to internet charged




A lot of my clients ask me the difference between SAN and NAS. Image 27-03-16 at 2.54 PMThe below image is  an


attempt to clarify it.

SAN is a dedicated high speed network that provides access to consolidated Block Level Storage. SAN is usually connected to servers and it appears as if they are dedicated locally attached hard drive. A SAN doesn’t provide file abstraction, only block level storage. That means there is no File system associated with SAN, and you get a storage volume without any file system and you have to create the file system. You have to format the storage volume which you have got in SAN before you can start using it.

SAN supports several protocols. The most commonly used are FC, FCoE and iSCSI

NAS is a file level storage system connected to a network providing data access to a heterogeneous group of clients. So let’s say you have an External HDD. You can connect it in your router ( if it has a USB) port, use the IP adress of this drive and connect your Windows or Mac based PCs. That becomes the network drive and you can access it from any where. You don’t have to worry about formatting and file system in NAS. It’s a simple plug and play solution which is  quick to deploy and is the cheapest solution available.

The most common protocols used with NAS are : SMB/ CIFS and NFS.