Amazon hopes enterprise users will grow cold towards using tape backup systems. With the recent launch of Glacier, the company is targeting small and medium businesses that need secure backups of files that don't really need frequent access.
Glacier is branded as such, because it deals with “cold storage,” meaning files and data that users don't get to access on a regular basis. Such backups may include financial documents necessary for audit or regulatory review at a later date.
Enterprise users and owners of high-traffic websites would usually be familiar with Amazon S3, which offers fast retrieval through a content distribution network. However, Glacier differs significantly, in that archived data is delivered at a slower rate. Amazon says “retrieval requests are queued up and honored at a somewhat leisurely pace.”
Yes, in that regard, the speed is really glacial. But the target market here are organizations and enterprises that just need to keep a copy or archive of their data for access at a later time.
Target markets include academic institutions, digital media professionals, enterprise IT departments, and the like.
I think this service is good for any consumer with a lot of data, too. Glacier does not have up-front fees, but charges only a penny ($0.01) per Gigabyte per month. This can be very useful for storing photos, software, apps and basically any data that needs to be archived.
Recall how Wired journalist Mat Honan's MacBook, iPhone and iPad data got wiped out when his iTunes and Gmail account were compromised. He had iCloud backups, but given the rapid nature of transfers from those kinds of cloud storage, these can easily be deleted at the press of a button. Archived data has a more static nature, which can be advantageous for safekeeping.
If Glacier had a mobile app, I'd be sold. Would you go for cloud-based data archives at a penny per Gig a month?