Taking a page out of the books of Web-based storage providers, Google March 1 began offering User Managed Storage to meet Google Apps customers' requirements for additional space for their content in the cloud.
Google Apps is the search engine's suite of e-mail, document, presentation, spreadsheet and other apps, all residing on servers in Google's data centers all over the world.
Most users leverage Google Apps for free, but a portion pay Google $50 per user per year for additional security, management and support.
Google has long offered User Managed Storage for consumers who want to purchase more storage space when they fill the quota on their personal Google Accounts for Google Docs (1GB free allotment), Picasa Web Albums and Blogger (1GB allotment combined).
Now customers with paid Google Apps accounts can also purchase extra storage for Docs, and Picasa Web Albums and Blogger. This will be useful for workers who upload a large amount of Docs files and photos to Picasa or Blogger.
Domain administrators must enable User Managed Storage service for their business users in Google Apps Control Panel, but end users purchase extra storage using their Google Checkout account. The storage cannot be used for Gmail, or applied to another Google Apps user account.
One final caveat is that User Managed Storage may not be available in all areas, which is strange considering Google's cloud computing infrastructure is allegedly available all over the world.
Pricingfor User Managed Storage is the same as for personal Google Accounts. That is, it starts at $5 a year for 20GB of data and scales to 16TB of data for $4,096 a year. Those who require more must contact Google.
Google's storage addition comes as online storage is heating up. One of the most popular startups, Box.net, just banked $48 million in funding. Facebook acquired online storage specialist Drop.io last year.