As AWS re:invent gets into full swing, it’s a good time to examine some of the announcements Amazon made ahead of the conference. Not surprisingly, many of these announcements were related to the evolution of storage offerings on the AWS platform. Here's what it all means.
The most significant of Amazon’s storage-related announcements were tied to its AWS Storage Gateway, which allows you to provide your on-premises resources with access to storage in the AWS cloud. Many organizations use the AWS Storage Gateway in conjunction with their backup and disaster recovery efforts, thereby allowing backups to be saved in the cloud.
The AWS Storage Gateway exists in the form of an on-premises virtual machine or physical appliance. The gateway acts as a proxy, redirecting storage requests to the Amazon cloud. The gateway supports three different roles, including Tape Gateway, File Gateway and Volume Gateway.
Amazon has also recently announced high availability for gateways that are hosted on VMware hosts. While VMware has long offered high availability for virtual machines, Amazon is augmenting that capability with session-level high availability. If a service interruption should occur, the gateway is designed to recover in less than 60 seconds. During this time, sessions will remain connected, and applications that depend on those sessions should continue to function normally, aside from a brief pause during the outage.
Another welcome announcement is that Amazon has improved its Cloud Storage Gateway’s read performance. While there is no word yet on just how much of a performance boost can be expected, Amazon says that virtual tape library read performance will improve, and that file gateway performance will also improve for read operations and directory query operations.
Amazon is also introducing additional maintenance options for its Storage Gateway, particularly with regard to the way that updates are applied. Administrators will finally have the ability to schedule the installation of feature updates in a way that meets their needs. Mandatory security updates will still be applied automatically, as they become available.
Finally, Amazon is linking its AWS Storage Gateway to Amazon CloudWatch. This will give administrators access to cache performance data and other metrics.
There were, of course, many other storage-related announcements that are not directly related to the AWS Storage Gateway. For instance, Amazon has announced that it is introducing a Fast Snapshot Restore feature for its Elastic Block Store. This will allow for almost instant recovery of Elastic Block Store volumes.
In addition, Amazon has made some major announcements pertaining to its FSx file systems. Amazon FSx is a service that is designed to bring fully managed, third-party file systems to the cloud. Amazon FSx comes in two different flavors: Amazon FSx for Windows File Server and Amazon FSx for Lustre (which is used for compute intensive workloads).
The recent FSx announcements pertain to FSx for Windows File Server. Amazon FSx for Windows File Server is built on top of Windows Server, and is designed to provide file storage for applications that need SMB storage and an NTFS file system. The platform also provides Active Directory integration and fully supports Microsoft’s Distributed File System (DFS).
Although Amazon FSx for Windows File Server is already a very capable platform, Amazon is enhancing it in several ways. Among other improvements, Amazon is adding support for user storage quotas. It is also introducing data deduplication capabilities. Although specific information is not yet available, Amazon is also going to allow users to create smaller SSD file systems than were previously allowed.
Amazon has also announced that it is introducing a task scheduling feature for AWS DataSync. This new feature will allow changes to the data to be asynchronously copied from the data source to a destination in another region on a scheduled basis. Amazon customers will be able to run such tasks on an hourly, daily or weekly basis, or they can create their own custom schedules.
Finally, Amazon made a number of smaller announcements related to its various storage-related services. For example, Amazon is going to be providing a service level agreement (SLA) for S3 (the company’s object storage platform) replication. There will also be a way for customers to monitor the replication process.
Another minor announcement is that Amazon is going to be launching a free training course for AWS Snowball Edge.