Amazon RE:Invent is right around the corner, and Storage Switzerland will be there for the first time shooting our famous ChalkTalk Videos and attending various analyst meetings and vendor briefings. Amazon AWS’ various storage offerings deserve serious consideration for storage professionals as they look to improve performance, increase resiliency and reduce costs. It is important to remember though that Amazon AWS in infrastructure and most organizations will need to compliment the AWS storage offering with something else to create a complete solution.
The Amazon Storage Tiers
Our article, “Understanding The AWS Storage Portfolio”, covers the various tiers that Amazon provides. Amazon has elastic block storage (EBS) for cloud-hosted applications that need high performance, EC2 ephemeral storage for temporary instances and Elastic File Service (EFS) provides basic NAS functionality for cloud-based workloads that need a legacy storage protocol. Amazon also provides to object storage offerings; S3 for relatively active unstructured datasets and Glacier for very dormant data sets.
The Amazon Use Cases
Backup, DR and Archive
One of the first steps for most organizations is to leverage one of the Amazon storage tiers as a destination for backup and or archived data. In many cases the cloud is an ideal destination for this data and current pricing makes it very compelling. For backups, data can be replicated to the cloud creating a DR copy and some data protection solutions can leverage cloud compute to instantiate VMs from the backed up data, creating a disaster recovery site out of the Amazon cloud.
Using the cloud for archiving can take many forms. Some solutions scan and analyze data and move the older data to the cloud for long term storage. Others replace the existing storage systems and then consume the cloud as a tier of storage. Other than setting policies as to when data should be only available in the cloud, there is not much for IT to manage on a day to day basis. Compared to the cost of keep all data on primary storage, the archive to the cloud strategy, especially if can be so seamless, can save organizations massive amounts of storage spend.
Organizations need to be careful though. The cloud, unlike on-premises storage, is paid for periodically – organizations never own it outright. The periodic cost of maintaining petabytes of information in the cloud may be higher than just owning the storage outright. Organizations need to look at their capacity demands now and in the future to determine if and when they should bring the cloud back in-house.
Another area for concern is cloud lock-it. There may come a time where a customer wants to move away from Amazon and bring data back in-house, like described above, or move data to another provider. The concept of multi-cloud data movement software is just now taking hold, but is something that IT should factor into its decision making process.
While backup, DR and archive are a great place to start in cloud utilization, there is much more IT can do with the cloud. For example, the cloud can be leveraged as a distribution mechanism so data can be accessible and, when necessary, moved between the on-premises data centers an organization may have. This capability requires a global file system that can make all the data center file systems look like a single mount point. This global file system also needs to move data to where it is being accessed the most.
Leveraging Cloud Compute
Finally, organizations need to leverage cloud compute. While data has gravity and can’t be easily moved or deleted, compute does not. An organization can start a server, or 1,000 servers almost instantly in the cloud, process information and then shut the server down to save money. The problem is to insatiate these applications in the cloud requires the application either be rewritten or the global file system product be itself instantiated in the cloud. Having the same file system local and in the cloud means an application can run anywhere, on-premises or in the cloud, providing the organization with the ultimate in flexibility.
To learn more about how to leverage Amazon’s cloud storage offerings and what to look for at Amazon RE:Invent watch our on demand webinar “Amazon RE:Invent for Storage Professionals – Three Capabilities to Look For”.