Storage on Amazon Web Services - dummies

Storage on Amazon Web Services

By Bernard Golden

Among the individual Amazon Web Services (AWS) offerings — and there are a bunch of them! — is the storage capacity. Take a long, hard look at AWS storage, for several reasons:

  • Storage is an increasingly important topic to IT because of the recent staggering increase in the amount of data that businesses use in their day-to-day operations. Though traditional structured data (the database) is growing quite rapidly, the use of digital media (video) by businesses is exploding.

    IT organizations are using more and more storage, and they often look to communication service providers (CSPs) such as Amazon to provide storage. Another driver of storage consumption is the recent rise of big data, which refers to analyzing very large datasets.

    Companies are drowning in data, and many are finding it nearly impossible to keep up with managing their own, on-premises storage systems.

  • Storage is the first AWS offering that Amazon offered. Storage therefore holds a significant place in the AWS ecosystem, including some extremely innovative uses of its storage services by AWS customers over the years.

  • A number of AWS offerings rely on AWS storage, especially Simple Storage Service (S3). Understanding AWS storage services helps you better understand the operation of the AWS offerings that rely on AWS storage.

  • AWS continues to innovate and deliver new storage services. Glacier, for example, provides a fresh twist on addressing a historic IT issue: archival storage.

The term Amazons storage service (which may be the largest in the industry) is a misnomer: The company offers four different storage services within AWS. The scale of the overall storage service that subsumes all four specific services is enormous.

In just more than six years, S3 has grown so rapidly that it now contains more than 2 trillion objects. To put the staggering growth of S3 into perspective, the service spent six years reaching 1 trillion objects, and less than ten months growing from 1 to 2 trillion objects.

Despite the rock star status of S3, there are in all four AWS storage services (drumroll, please):

  • Simple Storage Service (S3): Provides highly scalable object storage in the form of unstructured collections of bits

  • Elastic Block Storage (EBS): Provides highly available and reliable data volumes that can be attached to a virtual machine (VM), detached, and then reattached to another VM

  • Glacier: A data archiving solution; provides low-cost, highly robust archival data storage and retrieval

  • DynamoDB: Key-value storage; provides highly scalable, high-performance storage based on tables indexed by data values referred to as keys

AWS also offers a managed database service called Relational Database Service, or RDS.