Cloud-based document management programs typically advertise a per user/per month cost, generally around $40 to $50 per user, depending on what additional-cost options may be chosen. But the kicker for many firms comes when, after agreeing to that, they are told, “oh, and there is an extra storage fee of $.50-.75 per megabyte” after a relatively small base amount. So a firm with a terabyte of documents (not unusual) winds up paying $500-750 per month extra for storage.
When you can go to Amazon and buy a 2-TB external hard drive for $75 or less, this initially seems outrageous. Why so much?
The answer basically is that you are paying for much more than simple storage on a low-end drive. The storage cost includes (at least) the following:
• High-speed network drives. These provide the ability for rapid access by multiple users and the ability to change the size of your virtual drives essentially immediately.
• Backup to one or two other remote locations (thus doubling or tripling the stated size of your storage).
• Multiple “snapshots” daily (sometimes 12 times a day). While these are incremental, they do add additional space.
• The cost of software to manage these drives, and the technicians to operate them.
• Backup, anti-virus and other management software to maintain and secure the data.
• Maintaining various certifications now increasingly required: HIPPA, ISO 27001, SSAE 16, Safe Harbor, and various other standards.
• Ongoing penetration testing to ensure the security of the site (this can cost several thousand dollars a month).
• Additional infrastructure and disk availability to ensure the smooth functioning of the installation (this is a capital cost for the provider).
So what you are really getting as part of your “storage costs” is the software and IT services you would otherwise have to purchase separately. True, you might think that this should be rolled in to the base cost, but since it is variable depending on disk space, it isn’t. Life in the cloud.