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Google unveils Net storage utility

Attention Amazon Web Services customers: there's a new alternative for storing data in the cloud.

Offering a direct competitor to a widely used service, Google on Wednesday launched an early version of an Internet-based storage system.

As with the better established Amazon Web Services (AWS) option called Simple Storage Service (S3), Google Storage for Developers provides a mechanism to tap into data that Google houses and keeps safe and accessible.

The service is designed to offer low-level access to information stored on the Net. Web sites and Web applications can tap into the data as needed, and Google charges through a utility-computing model that means the more customers use, they more they pay.

Google announced the new service amid its Google I/O conference.

"Developers can easily connect their applications to fast, reliable storage replicated across several U.S. data centers," Jessie Jiang of the Google Storage for Developers team, said in a blog post Wednesday.

The Google service is open by invitation to a "limited number of U.S. developers only," Google said. Those early testers get 100GB of data storage capacity and 300GB per month in data-transfer bandwidth.

After that, as with Amazon's S3, there are fees. Among them: 17 cents per gigabyte per month, 10 cents per gigabyte for uploading data to the service, 15 to 30 cents per gigabyte for downloading data from it.

S3 pricing is more complicated, with per-usage costs dropping at higher rates of usage. For example, for the first 50 terabytes of storage, Amazon charges 15 cents per gigabyte for its premium level.

Update at 4:30 a.m. PDT: Google also lets you do something with the data via BigQuery and Prediction interfaces to Google Storage.

BigQuery can be used to explore and analyze data sets, Google said, and Prediction "exposes Google's advanced machine learning make your apps more intelligent. The service helps you use historical data to make real-time decisions such as recommending products, assessing user sentiment from blogs and tweets, routing messages, or assessing suspicious activities."