I had to rub my eyes when I saw the pricing for Google BigQuery yesterday. I believe the cloud will be a key component for managing and analyzing data generated by the industrial internet of things. It’s also true that the cloud can radically alter the economics of both storage and processing. Case in point: Amazon Redshift is billed by the hour and pricing scales linearly with the resources consumed. Add to that, data visualization vendors such as TIBCO have fallen in line with that pricing model too. That makes it possible to take on all kinds of analytics projects that were unthinkable before, just because the startup costs of the typical data warehouse or data mart were prohibitive.
In my experience, companies love value-based pricing like Amazon Redshift. They also favor pricing transparency and predictability too. That’s another reason why the cloud is attractive – pay month-to-month (for example) and just stop paying when you don’t see the value anymore. Predictability is good for budgeting too – CIO’s need to know how much it will cost to add another 40 users, or store the next petabyte.
That’s why I’m so flabbergasted by Google’s pricing for BigQuery, it’s just so unpredictable:
- 2 cents a GB a month for storage. Fair enough, got it.
- 1 cent for 100,000 rows of streaming inserts. Okaaay, I can get my head round that…
- Query pricing. The first 1TB of data processed each month is free – very cool. But after that, it’s $5 per terabyte and to quote from Google: “BigQuery uses a columnar data structure. You’re charged according to the total data processed in the columns you select, and the total data per column is calculated based on the types of data in the column.” Huh. Run that one by me again.
I’d love to have been in the room when they came up with that one… Maybe Google think query-based pricing is value-based pricing, but it’s just not transparent and predictable. I defy anyone to calculate how much they will spend from one month to the next. I guess you could argue that it’s so cheap there’s no need to worry about the exact cost. But from my perspective, the scale of the cloud is so vast that the vendor should just absorb those little wrinkles in the cost structure and keep pricing simple. All things being even, pricing transparency will win in the long run. And the cloud is all about the long run.