AWS Storage Services

S3 Storage

Many people have files, folders and videos backed up to the cloud everywhere, Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, you name it. Most of the time, it’s because you’ve run out of storage in one service, so you try another, but this makes it so difficult to keep tabs on all of your files, and you might lose important documents if you can’t get into your account or remember which account you stored them in. Many of us have had hazardous file storage situations regarding backing up to the cloud. The storage service might go down, or we might be wasting money on paying for storage space through a subscription service that we may not end up using. Also, when we upload the files to the cloud, it isn’t easy to hotlink to it, meaning you can’t use an image or upload it onto a service like Dropbox or Google Drive and embed it into your webpage. AWS has a solution for your static file storage called Amazon Simple Storage Service or Amazon S3. Amazon S3 is an object storage service, which means that you’re storing each file as an entity called an object. It offers industry-leading data availability, security, performance, and scalability. Scalability is how you can scale your usage up or down with extreme flexibility and be charged only for what you use. It’s designed for 99.999999999%, or 11 nine’s of durability, which means that there is almost no chance of the data becoming corrupted. You can upload files of all sizes to serve various needs such as websites, mobile apps, backup and archiving, enterprise applications, IoT devices, and big data analytics, as three boasts easy-to-use management features to fine-tune access controls for your organization’s specific compliance requirements. Many storage classes with S3 support different data access levels at corresponding pricing. You can even set up S3 lifecycle policies, which would automatically transfer files from one storage class to a cheaper one after a certain number of days. These options range from using the S3 Standard class to store your frequently accessed files to using S3 Glacier Deep Archive to store backup data that’s rarely accessed for very cheap rates. Whatever your needs for object-based file storage may be, ranging from using photographs for your website or spending as little money as possible to back up your organization’s files, Amazon S3 would have an option that works for your budget and needs.

Elastic Block Store

You’ve spun up a virtual server on AWS, using amazon EC2 to run a database. But you notice you are running out of space on your virtual machine. What should you do to continue making your databases larger without impacting the virtual machine’s performance? AWS has a solution for you called Amazon Elastic Block Store, which allows you to add different block stores to your EC2 instance, and you don’t even have to reboot your server. Amazon Elastic Block Store or Amazon EBS behaves like raw, unformatted block devices, which can be mounted or attached to your EC2 instance to expand your server storage. You can add multiple volumes to the same instance, and you can use these volumes as file systems or hard drives. You can dynamically change the configurations of a volume attached to an instance, which means you can change the settings and sizes with just a few clicks on the management console. These volumes are automatically replicated within their availability zone, making them available and durable. Many organizations use EBS to host their vast databases. Different EBS store types are available to fit your needs and budgets, and the option to encrypt the volumes for compliance. EBS provides persistence block storage volumes, meaning they don’t disappear when EC2s are rebooted. They also exist independently of the virtual servers they are mounted on and can be moved to other EC2 instances. You can think of EBS volumes as external hard drives for your virtual servers. Taking advantage of scalable, durable, and reliable storage options using Amazon EBS will make scaling your IT operations a breeze.

AWS Snowball

Okay, you’ve made your case, and your boss has approved the migration of the company’s backups from onsite servers to AWS Cloud. You’ll need to upload seven years’ worth of data. Wait, how long will uploading seven years’ worth of data even take through the Internet connection at your company? Sometimes the amount of data you want to upload to AWS Cloud is small enough that you can do it through your high-speed Internet connection. Other times, you realize that the amount it takes for you to upload gigabytes or terabytes of data would potentially take years on the Internet circuit you have. But, of course, AWS has already devised a solution to make your life easier. AWS Snowball. AWS Snowball is one of the very few hardware solutions from AWS, and it is a data migration tool. AWS will physically ship you a Snowball to move your data onto and mail it back so you can migrate vast amounts of data. The amount of data you can move into AWS Cloud ranges from 50 terabytes with a regular Snowball to 100 petabytes with a Snowmobile. An AWS Snowmobile is a 45-foot-long shipping container pulled by a semi-trailer truck. In case you have any doubts, this is the Snowmobile, pulled by a semi-trailer truck to haul your petabytes of data back to AWS Data Centers. The usage fee of a Snowball device is free for ten days of onsite usage, with negligible extra onsite usage fees for every day you keep it beyond that. A service fee per job ranges from $200 for a 50-terabyte snowball to $320 for an 80-terabyte snowball used in Asia-Pacific. The data transferred into AWS is stored in S3, and there is no transfer fee. However, you will be paying for S3 storage space as a storage fee to host your transferred data. The Snowmobile has more significant costs associated with use as you will be chartering a massive truck with enormous storage capacities. You can follow up with an AWS sales representative for an estimate for your particular need. Requesting and using AWS Snowball is simple. You request to have the hardware mailed to you using the AWS Management Console. When it arrives, you attach the device to your local network, run the Snowball client on your machine, and select folders and files you want to encrypt and transfer onto the AWS Cloud. Once the transfers are completed, you can mail them back to AWS, and once received, AWS will upload your files onto S3. One hundred terabytes of data will take more than 100 days to transfer over a dedicated 100 megabits per second connection. The transfer to the cloud could take months for large amounts of data, even with a high-speed Internet connection. With AWS Snowball, the same transfer can be accomplished in less than a week using two Snowball devices, with a few days tacked on for shipping. If you’re considering moving a lot of data onto AWS Cloud, take a peek at AWS Snowball to help you.

Storage Gateway

So, using cloud computing to reduce costs sounds like a great idea. Still, your organization uses the data a lot, so you don’t want to sacrifice latency or the time it takes for your resources to be accessible. Going up to the cloud to download a 500-megabyte file every time you want to make an edit sounds like a horrible idea when your whole company is sharing a single circuit. What should you do to maintain very low latency but still take advantage of the costs and time-saving benefits of cloud computing? AWS Storage Gateway may be the best-of-both-worlds solution you’re looking for. It connects your on-premises storage with AWS Cloud Storage, providing a hybrid storage solution for your IT infrastructure. The service seamlessly integrates on-premises enterprise applications and corporate workflows with AWS’s Cloud Storage Services through a virtual machine installed onto an on-premises data center’s host server. It creates a gate that connects your onsite users and devices to the resources stored in AWS Cloud with minimal latency. AWS offers three types of storage solutions to fit your needs. File-based, volume-based, and tape-based. Files backed up using the File Gateway are stored as objects in S3. There is a one-to-one representation of each file backed up to the cloud in S3, and the gateway asynchronously updates the objects in S3 as local files are updated. The local cache is maintained to provide low-latency access to recently accessed resources. On the other hand, the Volume Gateway uploads files in blocks instead of single files. You can think of the Volume Gateway as backing resources up as a virtual hard disk instead of individual files. These blocks can be asynchronously backed up as point-in-time snapshots and stored as Elastic Block Store or EBS snapshots. There are two types of Volume Gateways available stored volume and cached volume. The significant difference is where the complete copy of your data is stored. Stored volume keeps the complete copy on-premises while sending snapshots or incremental backups to AWS. Cached volume keeps only the most recently accessed data on-premises and the complete copy on the cloud. The last type of storage gateway is the Tape Gateway which utilizes virtual tapes. You can use your existing tape-based backup infrastructure to backup data onto virtual tapes on S3. You can think about Tape Gateway as taking backups on physical tapes, except instead of physical tapes, they are digital tape cartilages stored on S3. Data is stored locally and then asynchronously uploaded to S3. The data can be archived using Amazon Glacier, like sending your physical tape backups to an off-site tape holding facility like Iron Mountain. You pay for storage and data retrieval. The quicker you can access the backed-up data, the more expensive the solution becomes. For example, data stored via Tape Gateway is much cheaper saved to S3 Glacier Deep Archive than S3 Glacier because the data retrieval takes more time. Depending on where you want to store the complete copy of your data and how you would like to back up your data, there are multiple options available for utilizing AWS Cloud as a backup and storage resource for your frequently accessed data through AWS Storage Gateway.

AWS Storage Services Summary

This article covered four primary storage services in AWS: Amazon Simple Storage Service or S3, Amazon Elastic Block Store or EBS, AWS Snowball, and AWS Storage Gateway. Let’s quickly review them to ensure we’ve got the fundamental concepts down before moving on. Amazon Simple Storage, more commonly known as Amazon S3, is an object storage service that you can conceptualize as storing each file as an individual object like you would in your My Documents folder. It’s designed for scalability, data availability, security, and performance and is used in industries of all sizes. Many storage classes are available to fit every organization’s budget and needs. You can even set up S3 lifecycle policies, which will automatically transfer files from one storage class to a cheaper one after a certain number of days. You can use S3 for various needs, whether for hosting images your users upload to your web app or as an inexpensive backup solution. In contrast, Amazon Elastic Block Store, or EBS, is a block storage service. While S3 stores files individually as objects, Amazon EBS stores them as blocks. Amazon EBS behaves like raw, unformatted block devices, which can be attached to your EC2 instances to expand your server storage. Think about an external hard drive that helps you up your laptop storage capacity. Amazon EBS is a scalable, durable, and reliable storage option to ensure you always have enough storage available for all your applications and servers. AWS Snowball is one of the very few hardware services AWS offers. It’s a data migration tool that can also function as a storage service. When you begin using AWS Snowball, AWS will ship you a physical Snowball to move your data onto. Once you finish moving the data onto Snowball, you mail it back, and AWS will migrate the data onto Amazon S3 for you. The amount of data you can transfer to the AWS cloud at one time using this service ranges from 50 gigabytes with a regular Snowball to up to 100 petabytes with a Snowmobile, a 45-foot-long shipping container pulled by a semi-trailer truck. Why bother with a physical device? Because transferring such large amounts of data over the internet will take a lot of time. Moving the data to a physical device and shipping it to AWS to upload to S3 on their end can save time, bandwidth, and even money. AWS Storage Gateway is a hybrid storage solution for your IT infrastructure, providing both low latency for file access and the benefit of cost and time saving with cloud computing. It is a gate that connects your onsite users and devices to resources stored in the AWS cloud with minimal latency. It offers three types of storage solutions to fit your needs, file gateway, tape gateway, and volume gateway, all addressing different needs. In the most fundamental sense, the difference between the three gateways is where you want to keep the complete copy of your data, onsite or on the cloud. There was a lot to unpack with the storage services. They all store things for you in the cloud, but they all have different uses in different ways of getting your data there.