A Look at the Amazon AWS Storage Gateway

Yesterday, Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced the availability of its AWS Storage Gateway, which acts as an iSCSI target, delivered as a virtual appliance.  On-premise servers can connect to the iSCSI device and store their data locally, with snapshots being stored in the Amazon S3 cloud-storage environment.

This announcement coincides with the publishing of ESG’s whitepaper on “DR in the Cloud” using AWS.

  My colleague, Terri McClure who covers storage at ESG, wrote a blog post on whether the availability of the AWS Storage Gateway affects the standalone storage-gateway business by third-party vendors (some of which use Amazon S3 as their storage back end).  Check out her blog at http://ITdependsBlog.com

All things being considered, I am very excited about the AWS Storage gateway (AWS SG), mostly because it reminds me in some ways of Microsoft’s for-sale backup product, System Center Data Protection Manager that I used to manage.  DPM wasn’t the most full-featured backup software on the market, but it did at least two very good things:

  1. DPM gave Microsoft customers an early option in disk-based backup, when other vendors were still trying to move from a tape-centric approach to backups.Similarly, I expect the AWS SG to be another way for customers that would like to start down the path of cloud-based backups and other scenarios, since the storage will simply appear like another iSCSI mounted volume.   Many existing cloud-based backup or replication solutions (or even apps that have their own backup-to-disk function) should be able to jump on the AWS SG bandwagon with very little effort.

The other way that many enterprise customers will start to appreciate cloud-based backup is by the recent innovations by their existing backup software, where Amazon or other public-cloud storage platforms, are being leveraged simply as tiers of media storage.  More on that in another blog post.

2. DPM also gave Microsoft a perspective that it didn’t have before – a deeper understanding of what was and wasn’t working with Microsoft’s underlying Volume Shadowcopy Service (VSS) functionality.  DPM showed MS some opportunities to enhance (or fix) aspects of VSS … and those VSS enhancements benefitted every backup solution that depended on VSS.

Terri’s blog post pointed out several lessons that independent storage gateway vendors have learned or are struggling with.  My guess is that the AWS Storage Gateway will give AWS similar new insights on how they can enhance S3 and the rest of the AWS technologies in a way that adds value and new opportunities for the entire ecosystem of cloud-based solution providers.

The AWS Storage Gateway is a credible offering for what its initial release is designed to do.  And like most cloud-based offerings, one can expect it to be enhanced in months, not years, as customers give feedback and operational lessons are learned.  As Terri points out, the AWS Storage Gateway may not be taking over the world of cloud-based storage enablement quite yet.  But the AWS Storage Gateway, when seen alongside all of the other AWS offerings, shows how Amazon is continuing to evolve its Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offerings.   And those evolutions are good not only to Amazon and its ever-growing AWS direct customer base, but also to the partners that will develop even more solutions based on them for the rest of us.

ESG recently authored a white paper on “DR in the Cloud“, based on where we see companies struggling with home-grown DR solutions — and how the AWS offerings can help.

To read the ESG Whitepaper on “DR in the Cloud” using AWS, click here.

Thanks for reading.

[Originally posted on ESG at Technical Optimist .com]

Leave a Reply