GigaOm Radar for Alternatives to Amazon S3 v4.0

Public Cloud Object Storage Services

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Chapter 1

Executive Summary

Organizations today look to the cloud for their compute and data storage needs. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is by far the current market leader in both revenue and number of customers, and its service ecosystem is the most complete. Amazon’s popular Simple Storage Service (S3) is an object store, meaning that data is stored as objects along with associated metadata and identifiers. This architecture is inexpensive and scalable, and it renders massive amounts of unstructured data more readily accessible and more easily analyzed. S3 is also the name of the API for accessing the data programmatically.

The S3 API has quickly become the standard for object storage, but there are alternative APIs from major cloud providers. Many third-party solutions are now compatible with more than just S3, offering additional options to users. API compatibility could remain an issue, though—even if the customer has control of the entire stack, making changes to the application is not always economically or technically feasible.

To simplify data access and the migration process, some service providers offer a compatibility mode that allows customers to use the S3 API, or a subset of it, along with their native API. Thus, Amazon Identity and Access Management (IAM) should always be considered when evaluating the compatibility requirements of most applications that use an S3 interface.

Object storage is an excellent choice for many use cases and applications, both in the cloud and on-premises. Most applications that deal with unstructured data can easily take advantage of an object store, which contributes to its appeal. It’s a popular data storage target for containerized or serverless applications, as well as for more traditional object store use cases like backup, archiving, media content management, big data lakes, and high-performance computing (HPC).

However, Kubernetes’s rising popularity means that customers are mindful of portability and cloud lock-in, as containers are portable across public clouds and other environments. With so many container-based applications leveraging object storage, avoiding lock-in of object storage is as relevant as ever, and customers are evaluating alternatives and more open cloud ecosystems for storage and compute.

Amazon S3 is relatively inexpensive compared to other storage options available from Amazon AWS, but its performance is not always consistent. Moreover, the real cost of the service is not always immediately apparent and could become an issue for some customers. The S3 pricing model is quite complex and depends on factors like resilience, data locality, storage tiers, input/output (I/O) characteristics, and data transfer (egress) costs.

At the end of the day, it’s not easy to estimate the cost of S3 to your organization, and it can be difficult to predict how it will evolve. The egress costs of public cloud services worry CFOs and project managers the most, limiting flexibility for executing a multicloud strategy due to unforeseen costs.

All of which is to say that although AWS has a very compelling solution ecosystem, it’s smart to take a look at alternative solution providers, many of whom offer innovative services for vertical markets and use cases, with interesting non-AWS options. Thanks to the success of Amazon S3, many competitors have begun providing similar services while trying to differentiate in the market on price, performance, and functionality.

This is our fourth year evaluating alternatives to Amazon S3 in the context of our Key Criteria and Radar reports. This report builds on our previous analysis and considers how the market has evolved over the last year.

This GigaOm Radar report examines 12 of the top alternatives to Amazon S3 and compares offerings against the capabilities (table stakes, key features, and emerging features) and nonfunctional requirements (business criteria) outlined in the companion Key Criteria report. Together, these reports provide an overview of the market, identify leading offerings, and help decision-makers evaluate these solutions so they can make a more informed investment decision.

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