Amazon Bridges On-Premises Storage and Cloud With Storage Gateway

By Thor Olavsrud

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is attempting to bridge the space between on-premises storage appliances and the cloud and transform itself into a vendor of enterprise IT in the process.

AWS, an Amazon.com company (NASDAQ:AMZN), Wednesday took the wraps off a beta of the AWS Storage Gateway, a service that connects on-premises software appliances with cloud-based storage from the Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3).

"With the AWS Storage Gateway, we're providing businesses yet another way to easily take advantage of AWS's secure, scalable and cost-effective cloud storage for use with their on-premises applications," said Alyssa Henry, general manager of AWS Storage Services. "The AWS Storage Gateway works with your existing applications using a standard iSCSI interface, securely transfers your data to AWS over SSL and stores data encrypted at rest in Amazon S3."

The service leverages AES 256 for encryption. Because it uses a standard iSCSI interface, there is no need to re-architect on-premises applications. Amazon said the service maintains data in the on-premises hardware while asynchronously uploading it to AWS, ensuring it maintains the same read/write performance previously offered by existing on-premises applications. Storage volumes can be up to 1 TB in size.

To save bandwidth, the service uploads only information that has changes since the last upload. The company also pointed to AWS Storage Gateway's ability to leverage on-demand compute capacity from Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) for additional capacity during peak periods, or for new projects or simply to run normal enterprise workloads.

Amazon said enterprises could use AWS Storage Gateway to upload data to Amazon S3 and Amazon EBS snapshots, thereby mirroring on-premises data. Amazon EBS volumes can be created from the snapshots (using either AWS Management Console or Amazon EC2's APIs) and attached to Amazon EC2 compute instances, giving enterprises access to the data for any processing or computation required.

Additionally, customers can use Amazon CloudWatch to monitor the performance metrics of their gateway storage volumes from AWS Management Console. The metrics include throughput, latency and Internet bandwidth to Amazon S3.

"We develop and implement solutions for our clients to reliably store and backup their critical application data," said Ed Laczynski, vice president of Cloud Strategy at Datapipe, a firm that offers solutions for managing and securing mission-critical IT services. "Many of our clients store user-generated content locally. Traditional off-site backup products are often costly to maintain and not geared toward automation for recovery. A cost-effective and reliable alternative, AWS's Storage Gateway addresses these issues by plugging seamlessly into the environments we manage for our customers, providing low-latency data access, while encrypting and snapshotting data to AWS's cloud storage infrastructure."

Amazon said pricing for the AWS Storage Gateway is $125 per month, per installed gateway and comes with a 60-day free trial. Snapshot storage pricing starts at $0.14 per gigabyte per month.

Thor Olavsrud is a contributor to InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals.

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This article was originally published on January 25, 2012