Why Google wants businesses to mail in their hard drives

Your Internet connection may be fast, but it’s probably not fast enough to send a terabyte of business data anywhere near quickly enough to matter.

That’s why Google has introduced Offline Media Import/Export, a new feature for Google Cloud Platform that lets you literally ship a hard drive, flash drive, storage tapes, or whatever other kinds of storage you have to a service provider, who throws it into Google’s cloud storage for you.

The service provider can either return the drive to you, destroy it, or keep it, depending on your preference, Google says.

“Offline Media Import/Export is helpful if you’re limited to a slow, unreliable, or expensive Internet connection,” writes Google’s Ben Chong in a blog entry announcing the new feature.

In that post, Chong breaks it down a little: Most business DSL plans top out at 100 megabits per second, he writes. That’s great for most everyday usage. But it’s suboptimal if you’re moving tremendous amounts of data around. At that speed, uploading a single terabyte of data (that’s the kind of scale we’re talking here) would take 100 days.

Meanwhile, the good old US Postal Service moves a little faster than that. Just overnight a hard drive to that service provider — in North America, Google has enlisted Iron Mountain as its partner for this service — and you’ve cut the time by one-hundredth.

This is an aggressive move that Chong explicitly calls out as being a great complement to Google Cloud Storage Nearline, its much-ballyhooed product for storing business files that you don’t need right away.

Recently, Google offered $US1 million of free Nearline storage to anybody who switched from Amazon — and this move is aimed at picking up the pace by making it easier than ever for businesses to move all their data to Google, no matter where it was originally stored.

Meanwhile, Amazon Web Services has offered its own version of this service for the last six years or so. Neither Google nor Iron Mountain call out pricing for the service, but it’s likely competitive with Amazon’s rates of $US80 per storage device and then $US2.49 per hour it actually takes to upload to the cloud.

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