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AWS Cloud Storage: Product Overview and Insight

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Bottom Line:

AWS is clearly the leader in the cloud computing market, including the cloud storage market. Even in the highly competitive public cloud market, AWS is considered a top choice in application development, analytics, Internet of Things (IoT) applications, cloud-native applications and general business applications.

All of these features, while not storage itself, may be combined with a storage offering. So AWS's overall depth as a cloud vendor is a big plus for its storage platform.

Amazon S3 is the leader in revenue and amount of data under management. Its S3 API gives it control of a vast ecosystem of developers and storage vendors. This makes it a top candidate for just about any organization considering cloud storage.

However, prices have not decreased much as of late. This may mean there are sometimes cheaper options. Therefore, smaller, more cost-focused businesses may not favor AWS for storage.

Furthermore, businesses need to spend over a certain dollar amount (which is not disclosed) to get personalized service. This is yet another reason that smaller firms may look to smaller cloud storage providers.

Company Description

Amazon Web Services (AWS), a subsidiary of Amazon. It is a cloud-focused service provider, which pioneered the cloud IaaS market in 2006 with the introduction of Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). It is publicly traded. Customers include Netflix, LinkedIn, Facebook ,Turner Broadcasting, BBC , and ESPN.

Service Description:

AWS owns almost half of the cloud storage market. It offers a complete range of cloud storage services. It is used by the likes of the U.S. federal government, 21st Century Fox, Netflix, Discovery, Airbnb, Lyft, Pinterest, GE, Johnson & Johnson, and BP.

  • Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) is object storage designed to store and access any type of data over the Internet. S3 is used for backup and recovery, tiered archive, user-driven content (like photos, videos, music and files), data lakes for big data analytics and data warehouse platforms, or as a foundation for serverless computing design.
  • Amazon Glacier is low-cost and highly durable object storage service for long-term backup and archive of any type of data of infrequently accessed data.
  • Amazon Elastic File System (Amazon EFS) provides file storage for use with Amazon EC2 instances in the AWS Cloud. It provides high throughput with low latency and is designed for high availability and durability.
  • Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) provides low-latency block storage for Amazon EC2. Users can tune applications with the right mix of storage capacity, performance, and cost. EBS is designed for workloads that require persistent storage accessible by single EC2 instances.

Locations:

Multiple sets of redundant data centers in regions across the U.S., as well as in Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, U.K., Australia, India, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Brazil.

It also has one region dedicated to the U.S. federal government, and two China regions. Languages include English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Storage Type:

File, block and object.

Differentiator:

Amazon offers the biggest range of object, file, and block cloud storage options, as well as many cloud data migration choices, and the most ISV and integrator partnerships. This ecosystem is supported by an infrastructure built on multiple availability zones and regions that other cloud storage vendors struggle to compete with.

“S3 is well suited for both big and little data repositories of objects, ranging from backup to archive to active video images and much more,” said Greg Schulz, an analyst with StorageIO Group.

Implementation:

Anyone with a credit card can sign up and start storing data in S3 in a few minutes. Programmers can use online documentation for the API SDKs or AWS console, or a command line interface.

In addition, the AWS Storage Gateway is a software appliance that links an on-premises environment to Amazon cloud storage. It offers local storage with connectivity to AWS Cloud storage, and helps with migration, bursting and storage tiering use cases.

However, optimal usage of AWS storage services requires an array of sophisticated skills that many enterprises lack. Users often require professional services from AWS-focused managed service providers to fill the skills gap.

“The service is well documented and very easy to use. The management interface is great,” said an SQL developer in finance.

Other users, noted, though, that the web interface could be frustrating when dealing with large numbers of files.

Data Transfer:

The simplest way is to copy and paste data from a local computer into the service over the Internet. For larger amounts of data:

  • AWS Direct Connect brings the AWS network to customers' on-premises data center by establishing a dedicated network connection to AWS.
  • AWS Snowball is a petabyte-scale data transport solution that uses devices to securely transfer data into and out of the AWS Cloud.
  • AWS Snowball Edge is a data migration and edge computing device with 100 TB of capacity and support for computing tasks via Amazon EC2 applications or AWS Lambda functions. It is used for intermittent connectivity (such as manufacturing, industrial, and transportation) or remote locations.
  • AWS Snowmobile is an exabyte-scale data transfer service used to move data to AWS. Users can transfer up to 100 PB per Snowmobile, a 45-foot long shipping container pulled by a semi-trailer truck.

Performance:

AWS can move up to 1 EB of data in an AWS Snowmobile. A typical Snowball job moves 80 TB in about a week. Direct Connect depends on WAN conditions and availability.

  • Max. IOPS/Volume‎: ‎40–200
  • Max. IOPS/Instance‎: ‎80,000
  • Max. Throughput/Volume‎: ‎40–90 MB/s

Availability/SLA:

AWS provides 99.99% availability and 99.9999999% durability for object storage. AWS does not give an availability SLA, though with EBS snapshots, versioning and cross-region replication capabilities, users can place copies of data in multiple regions around the globe to protect against accidental or malicious deletions.

Technical Support:

AWS offers tech support as well as AWS Professional Services for custom engagements.

User comments on technical support are positive.

“Tech support always met my expectations,” said a government IT manager.

Security:

Amazon S3 provides various levels of security and compliance, as well as customer guidance to prevent Amazon S3 buckets and objects from allowing public access. Multiple security controls are put in place to prevent data leakage.

Organizations such as Capital One have stated that they are more secure in AWS than in their own data centers, and multiple branches of highly sensitive government agencies depend on AWS.

Storage Management:

Amazon S3 provides multiple tags for objects to manage, inventory, and analyze data in place with SQL tools. Analytics and machine learning services can be applied to data.

Storage management services include creating a lifecycle policy, creating cross-Region replication rules, managing cross-Region replication rules, configuring storage class analysis, configuring Amazon S3 inventory, configuring request metrics, and configuring a request metrics filter.

Markets and Use Cases:

  • Amazon S3: Making data accessible from any Internet location, for user-generated content, active archive, serverless computing, Big Data storage or backup and recovery.
  • Amazon EBS: Persistent local storage for Amazon EC2, for relational and NoSQL databases, data warehousing, enterprise applications, Big Data processing.
  • Amazon Glacier: Affordable long-term storage for active archive and regulatory compliance in media and entertainment, financial services, and healthcare use cases.
  • Amazon EFS: A file system interface and file system access semantics to make data available to one or more EC2 instances, for content serving, enterprise applications, media processing workflows, Big Data storage or backup and recovery.
  • AWS Storage Gateway: hybrid storage cloud augmenting on-premises environments with Amazon cloud storage, for bursting, tiering or migration.
  • AWS Snowball edge: a data transfer device with onboard computing capabilities, to process data in remote or disconnected environments before returning it to the AWS Cloud.

“We were able to replace internal and expensive document storage and replace it with cheaper offline storage,” said a BI architect in retail. “Speed, size, and security are the most valuable features.”

Pricing:

Varies base on requirements and region. S3 storage in the U.S. starts at $0.023 per GB with Amazon Glacier at $0.004 per GB.

Vendor

AWS

Locations

US, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, UK, Australia, India, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Brazil, China

Storage Type

File, block, object

Differentiator

Biggest providers with best range of object, file, and block cloud storage options

Performance

IOPS: ‎80,000
90 MB/s

Availability

99.99%

Gartner MQ Rating

Leader

Pricing

S3 storage starts at $0.023 per GB, Amazon Glacier $0.004 per GB

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