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Unpacking AWS cloud storage options: pick a cloud service that’s right for you

Remember the days of running out of free space on a hard drive? Fortunately, these times have passed — at least when it comes to server infrastructure in the cloud. Cloud storage involves storing data on hardware in a remote location, which users can access via the internet from any device. Cloud service providers maintain files on their servers instead of individuals storing data on their own hardware. What are the advantages of this approach?

 

With this system, you can only pay for the space you use at very reasonable rates. For example, if you only need 1 GB, you pay for 1 GB. The biggest advantage of cloud storage is that there’s no initial cost of buying expensive infrastructure or hardware. You’re just a few clicks away from having a scalable storage space.

 

In this article, I will explain what Amazon’s cloud service has to offer and explain which one is right for you. Their wide portfolio allows you to choose storage based on your own needs. We have noticed in many projects that customers appreciate the flexibility and scalability of the service. The predictability of fees is also important. At Espeo we can help you choose the right service, set it up, and maintain it. Below are the main options that I will outline. 

 

Amazon S3 — the Simple Storage Service

The main assumption of Amazon S3 is scalability and high availability. There is no concept of a total size limit here. You can imagine this service as an infinite disk array ready to keep your data. The only limit you should keep in mind is that a single file cannot exceed 5 TB, which is far away from current needs.

 

The most common uses are:

  • Static files hosting — Speeds up page loading time by keeping them on a separate network resource

 

  • Backups and archives — Ideal for short-term backups especially for its pay-as-you-go model

 

  • Disaster recovery — Reduces the total cost of storage by replacing outdated disaster recovery solutions

 

  • Content Delivery Network — Reduces access times to files and web server load S3 allows you to distribute data to data centers, but still keeps files in a single bucket

 

By using S3, companies gain an infinitely scalable disk resource, which they can encrypt. Access policy is possible to set according to company requirements. There’s also an option to turn on versioning and collect access logs if needed. Users can access each file stored in S3 immediately with minimal latency. That’s many use it as an internet data source.

 

Cloud providers organize files into so-called buckets. There is a large range of tools that can connect to this resource easily. You can connect there like to the remote file system, manage connection from programming language using the AWS software development kit, access data directly from AWS console or via the AWS command-line interface.

 

This option is much cheaper than many alternatives, and at the same time easy to estimate and predict fees. If we know the data increase in a month — you can determine how much the service will cost next month. The price list is based on the GB-per-month unit, which fairly calculates the capacity and duration of data on S3.

 

By default with S3, you’ll get a standard storage class, which means that all data is stored at least in three availability zones. If cost matters there’s a possibility to lower it by adjusting storage class to infrequent access — Standard-IA or One Zone-IA, Glacier or even Deep Archive.

 

Amazon Glacier

Sometimes you may need to store data that does not have to be immediately available such as in backups or archive data sets. Just as real-world glaciers cover everything under ice for ages, Amazon Glacier keeps data secure, but more difficult to access. The main value of this service is to keep the price of data storage low by increasing access time. Access time can last for a few minutes up to several hours.

 

When we send a backup there, we want to send it there for the rare event that we’ll need to retrieve it. Keep in mind, that there’s a fee for deleting objects if we’d like to delete it before 90 days. 180 days with Deep Archive.

 

A higher price for accessing data is not an obstacle if in return we have an indecently low storage price.

 

If your company is still using tape drives as data carriers and storing them in an archive this service can be modern replacement of this outdated technology. With Glacier, you will even save on manual operation of recording data on tapes.

 

Amazon Elastic File System

Above, I covered where to keep web resources and large amounts of data, but what if we need extra efficiency and are able to pay for it? There is also a solution for that.

 

In this case, when cloud instances such as Elastic Compute Cloud, or EC2 requires a shared, efficient disk resource you can use the Amazon EFS service. It can work very efficiently with thousands of EC2 instances, distributed in many Availability Zones simultaneously. You can compare this service to a huge network-attached storage system.

 

It is a great tool for enterprise-level applications, demanding websites, Big Data applications or container storage. It will be the best solution for businesses with a heavy demand for file storage. EFS can be easily backed up using snapshots.

 

Amazon Elastic Block Store

Ok, but we don’t always have such big needs, what then? AWS offers us the EBS cloud service. It’s a purchase of disk blocks that work in conjunction with the EC2 instance. This service can be compared to a hard drive connected to a computer. It can work only with one EC2 instance at the time.

 

During the setup, you need to define our block’s capacity and performance. You can choose the type of disk and the number of operations per second it can handle. EBS can store data on old magnetic hard drives or new, fast solid-state drives. Then, after creating it, assign it to a working EC2 instance. It acts as a hard drive from a computer store, but it’s ready to go in a few minutes.

 

In this cloud service, the problem of a full disk may appear if the data growth exceeds your estimate.

 

Conclusion

A common feature of the AWS cloud service is its flexibility. While the price list of individual services varies depending on individual needs, they’re all billed in the same way for the space consumed in a month and for network transfer. The more data you keep there, the smaller the unit fee for each GB.

 

Network transfer is not free in both directions. Incoming traffic to AWS is free and you only pay for the amount of downloaded data. Fees depend on AWS regions and are reasonable. AWS Storage has great backup functionalities based on snapshots which can easily recover your lost data.

 

Are you still investing in your own infrastructure or renting space in a data center? Consider migrating to the cloud. Get rid of the cost of hardware that crashes. Start using modern, predictable resources that you can drop when you no longer need them. If your business is in need of storage solutions AWS is the company you can trust. Their service portfolio is so large that attempting to build anything by yourself no longer makes sense.

 

For more on choosing the right cloud service for your business, drop us a line. Here in Espeo, we’ll be happy to help you find the right solution to fit your needs. 

Filip Chmarzyński