Amazon Web Services (AWS) is one of the most comprehensive cloud storage platforms that cater to a broad range of enterprise use cases. Its multiple storage services give customers options.

  • Amazon S3 is an object storage meant to store static data, files, and objects that would be typically stored in a file system. Customers use it to centrally store images, videos, scripts, and documents accessed by a variety of applications.
  • Amazon EBS is the block storage that is attached to EC2 instances for high throughput and durability. It is based on SSD to deliver best possible I/O operations required by workloads such as OLTP and analytics.
  • AWS Storage Gateway is meant to bridge the gap between on-premises storage and cloud storage. It provides a mechanism to cache Amazon S3 data locally for faster access while streaming less-frequently accessed data to Amazon S3. Enterprises use it as a replacement to traditional tape-based backup sets.
  • Amazon Glacier is the cold storage service that complements Amazon S3 by offering long-term, durable, archival storage in the cloud; it is a perfect alternative to tape libraries. It is possible to automatically move data from Storage Gateway and S3 to Glacier by configuring object retention policies.

AWS S3 and Storage Gateway are now even more attractive because Amazon enhanced their feature sets and dropped their prices.

The new S3 Standard – Infrequent Access option

A new class of Amazon S3 storage is called S3 Standard – Infrequent Access (Standard – IA). It is designed to be used with data that is less frequently accessed but requires the same durability as the standard S3 objects.

At $0.0125/gigabyte/month, Standard – IA is much cheaper than S3 Standard. The service comes with a 30-day minimum storage duration with $0.01 / gigabyte charge for retrieval; this is in addition to the standard bandwidth costs. Objects that are smaller than 128 KB are considered as 128 KB for calculating the price.

Standard – IA complements the already available Reduced Redundancy Storage (RRS), which has lesser durability and a lower price than the standard class of storage. Amazon S3 offers a durability of 99.999999999%, while RRS delivers only 99.99% of durability. The new infrequent storage class doesn’t compromise on durability.

AWS Storage Gateway supports up to 1 petabyte of data

AWS Storage Gateway is deployed as a vSphere or Hyper-V appliance running within the corporate data center. It caches frequently accessed data locally while maintaining less frequently accessed data in the cloud. One of the configurations of Storage Gateway is the Gateway-Cached Volumes that lets customers treat Amazon S3 as the primary data storage.

With the latest support for larger volumes, AWS Storage Gateway with Cached Volumes supports a maximum of 1 petabyte (PB), which can be configured as 32 volumes with each one going up to 32 TB. The upload rate is increased to 120MB/s, with vSphere-hosted gateway appliances supporting 10Gb network adapters. This marks a 7x increase in storage and a 5x increase in upload rates. Existing appliances will receive the new features as a software update.

AWS is leaving the competition behind

In the race to zero, AWS is leading the pack with regular price cuts and enhanced options; the latest price drop makes Amazon S3 the cheapest.

Earlier this year, Google added Nearline Storage to its offering, and claimed that it will offer the benefits of Glacier without the tax of frequent access fee that Amazon levies to its customers. Microsoft is continuously improving its cloud storage; it recently announced the general availability of premium storage, a class of storage meant for running I/O intensive workloads on Azure. In comparison, AWS still has better features and price points.