How cloud storage services can be like an airline sandwich: complex pricing and purchase

Many industries over time have discovered that a simple buying experience leads to more revenue. Consider the battle McDonalds goes through. They started with a small menu. Over time it grew and grew, and periodically they remove a whole bunch of items and knock it down to “a #6 combo please”. They don’t want you sitting and thinking about how expensive something is.

Consider also auto manufacturers. GM was famous for having a large number of option codes (RPO). Wanted a passenger side mirror on that cadillac? You ordered it. I imagine sales people sitting down for days as you ordered the length and colour of the shag carpet.

So back to the airline. A few years ago I’m on a discount airline flight from somewhere in Australia to somewhere else in Australia. Its one of those ones where they would charge you extra for oxygen if they could. I’m sitting at the front, hungry. I ask the flight attendant before we take off what the ‘insert name of ridiculous-sounding-air-bistro/sky-cafe’ deal is. He then proceeds to explain a very complex tale.

You see, we have 4 types of sandwich. I’m going to take the trolley from here to the back of the plane. Sandwiches cost $12, but you can get more or less your choice. When I hit the back of the plane, whatever is left, I’m going to start coming forward again. These are now $9 sandwiches. If I hit the front of the plane, and there are still some, I’m going to start to the back, these are now $7 sandwiches.

Hmmm. So I have to optimise for:

  • Price
  • Selection
  • Possibility of getting nothing

So I can either pay $12 now and feast, or likely pay $9 and get my #2 choice, or maybe eat some ‘fusion’ sandwich of fish-heads and toe-cheese for $7, maybe nothing. Hmm. Decisions.

It feels the same way when looking at cloud storage. I’m presented with a lot of options, and some of them I don’t really have answers for.

First, location. To my shock and horror, GCP has *no* storage in Canada. Data sovereignty out the window. But they reassure me that, unlike Azure, weather on the US east coast due to Florence will have no affect in their South Carolina and Northern Virginia DC.

Second, location again. Is it Multi-regional, regional, nearline, coldline. E.g. where does it live, in how many spots.

Third, price. I have to understand my ‘cost/GB/month’. This I can understand, how much will I store. But I also have to decide whether I want to pay to retrieve or not (e.g. are reads free or not). I also have to know how many ‘class A’ and ‘class B’ operations I will do.

Geez, I just want the equivalent of a $100 hard drive, online somewhere. A few GB. The data rate is not that relevant to me (its a cache in my build pipeline).

So rather than clicking and buying a lot of storage quickly, I sat stumped and reading what a ‘class A operation’ is, and tried to guess whether I would do more of those, or more class B, or whether retrieval cost was important, etc. In that time I could have had a ‘Full-Flavor Orange Drink’ for $0.10, and a ‘Tempting Cheeseburger’ for $0.19.






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