Amazon Web Services (AWS) is currently the most widely used enterprise cloud data storage system, successfully competing against similar services from the likes of Microsoft and Google.
In this article, we look at what AWS offers and outlines how enterprises can cost-effectively match their enterprise data and applications to the right AWS service.
Not so long ago, the only option enterprises had for data storage was to purchase, set-up and manage ever increasing private storage server farms, but there were clear drawbacks to this scenario. First of all, the physical hardware cost too much money, and secondly, it hit company profits with high expenses generated in staff, man-hours, maintenance costs and power.
Cloud storage though is typically not only cheaper, but more reliable, scalable and secure than traditional on-premises storage systems. And instead of companies having to keep up with constant upgrades and the introduction of the next series of important or unimportant storage widgets, they can off-load that responsibility to their cloud storage provider. Analyst house IDC has set out how moving on-premise data to an on-demand cloud service provider can work out much cheaper (see this report by IDC).
The benefits of cloud data storage
- Decreased management overheads of IT resources
- Improved remote file access
- Improved productivity via collaboration
- Improved client relationships via data sharing
- Multi-layered security via encryption and group controls
- Eliminate the need to host internal data centers
- And only pay for the data storage you need on-demand, in response to business changes
What’s available from AWS
Amazon Elastic Block Storage (AWS EBS) is designed for persistent local storage via the Amazon EC2 cloud service. It is ideal for relational and NoSQL databases, data warehousing, enterprise applications, big data processing, and backup and recovery. See this article by NetApp for a very good illustration as to how users can cost-effectively manage their AWS EBS data volumes.
A different service is Amazon Elastic File System (Amazon EFS), which is a file system interface to make data available to one or more EC2 instances. It also supports content serving, enterprise applications, media processing workflows, big data storage and backup and recovery.
There is also Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), a scalable platform to make data accessible from any internet location, for user-generated content, active archiving, big data storage and again backup and recovery. In addition, Amazon Glacier is a long-term storage solution that can replace tape for archiving and regulatory compliance.
Making a choice
So with this in mind, what AWS service is good for me? Well, it depends on which data processes you want support, and for a number of organizations, particularly large enterprises, it may be a combination of the lot.
Amazon Elastic File System provides scalable file storage for use with multiple Amazon EC2 instances in the AWS Cloud. Amazon EFS offers a simple interface that allows you to create and configure file systems quickly and easily.
With Amazon EFS, storage capacity is elastic, growing and shrinking automatically as you add and remove files, so your applications have the storage they need when they need it.
When mounted on Amazon EC2 instances, an Amazon EFS file system provides a standard file system interface and file system access semantics, allowing you to easily integrate Amazon EFS with your existing applications and tools.
Multiple Amazon EC2 instances can be used with an Amazon EFS file system, allowing Amazon EFS to provide a common data source for processing different workloads and applications at the same time.
Alternatively, Amazon Elastic Block Storage provides persistent block storage volumes for use with single Amazon EC2 instances in the AWS Cloud. Each EBS volume is automatically replicated within its Availability Zone to protect users from component failure while offering high availability and durability.
EBS volumes offer the consistent and low-latency performance needed to run your workloads. With AWS EBS, you can scale your usage up or down within minutes – all while paying a low price for only what you provision.
Amazon EBS is designed for application workloads that benefit from fine-tuning for performance, cost, and capacity.
Typical use cases for AWS EBS include big data analytics engines like Hadoop and Amazon EMR clusters; relational and NoSQL databases such as Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, Cassandra or MongoDB; stream and log processing applications like Kafka and Splunk; and data warehousing applications such as Vertica and Teradata.
Another major AWS cloud service is Amazon S3, an object storage service that makes data available through an internet API that can be accessed anywhere.
Enterprises need the ability to simply and securely collect, store, and analyze their data on a massive scale. Amazon S3 is built to store and retrieve any amount of data from anywhere – websites and mobile apps, corporate applications, and data from IoT sensors or devices.
S3 provides comprehensive security and compliance capabilities that meet the most stringent regulatory requirements. It gives customers flexibility in the way they manage data to meet cost and access control considerations.
S3 also provides query-in-place functionality, allowing you to run powerful analytics directly on your data at rest in S3. AWS claims its Amazon S3 is the most supported storage platform available, with the largest ecosystem of ISV solutions and systems integrator partners.
It is clear that users have a good selection of AWS solutions to choose from to benefit from cloud efficiencies in managing their enterprise data. But, as IDC states: “Organizations must actively evaluate and consider the breadth of features and the services available in a service provider’s cloud ecosystem when evaluating and adopting a public cloud service provider. This will allow organizations to maximize the benefits of using the public cloud for their infrastructure needs.”