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4 AWS File Storage Solutions and How to Make the Most of Them

What Is AWS File Storage?

Cloud file storage refers to the storage of digital files, such as documents, photos, videos, and other types of data, on remote servers that are accessed through the internet. This allows users to store, access, and share their files from anywhere with an internet connection, rather than relying on local storage devices like hard drives or USBs.

AWS (Amazon Web Services) offers several file storage services that allow you to store and manage files in the cloud. These services provide scalable, durable, and accessible storage solutions for various use cases, such as shared storage, backups, or serving static files for web applications.

Each AWS file storage service is designed for specific use cases and provides different features, performance characteristics, and pricing models.

This is part of a series of articles about AWS EFS.

In this article:

AWS File Storage Benefits

There are several benefits of using AWS as a file storage solution, including:

  • Scalability: AWS provides highly scalable file storage solutions that can easily accommodate growing data volumes and changing workloads. You can easily increase or decrease your storage capacity as needed, without having to worry about hardware procurement, installation, or maintenance.
  • High availability: AWS file storage solutions are designed to provide high availability and durability, ensuring that your data is always accessible and protected against data loss.
  • Security: AWS provides a wide range of security features and tools to help you protect your data, including encryption, access controls, network security, and compliance certifications.
  • Flexibility: AWS provides a range of file storage solutions, including AWS EFS, AWS FSx, Amazon S3 storage, and AWS EBS, which can be used to meet a wide variety of file storage use cases.
  • Performance: AWS file storage solutions are optimized for performance and can deliver high throughput and low-latency access to data, making them ideal for compute-intensive workloads and applications that require fast data access.
  • Cost-effectiveness: AWS file storage solutions are designed to be cost-effective, with flexible pricing options that allow you to pay only for the storage and usage you need. Additionally, AWS provides cost optimization tools to help you reduce your storage costs, such as data lifecycle policies and storage tiering.

Related content: Read our guide to AWS file sharing

4 AWS File Storage Solutions

Here are some of the file storage options offered by AWS.

  1. S3 File Gateway

    Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (S3) is a scalable, secure object store that allows users to retain and retrieve unlimited amounts of data from anywhere in the world. S3 provides a user-friendly web service interface to store and access data, and it can be used with any type of file, such as documents, images, videos, or application data. S3 also provides features like automatic data replication, versioning, and lifecycle policies to help users manage their data efficiently.

    Amazon S3 File Gateway is a virtual appliance provided that enables on-prem apps to use Amazon S3 as a primary file storage platform. It provides a hybrid cloud store that enables customers to store and manage their file-based applications in Amazon S3, while still providing on-premises access to files and folders using the Network File System (NFS) or Server Message Block (SMB) protocols.

    The Amazon S3 File Gateway can be installed on a virtual machine (VM) or a physical server, and it appears to the on-premises applications as a traditional file server. The gateway provides a set of APIs that map the file system requests from the applications to Amazon S3 operations, allowing the gateway to store and manage the files in Amazon S3.

  2. EFS

    Elastic File System (EFS) is a fully managed, highly scalable, and available file system used with AWS cloud services and on-prem resources. It provides a simple interface that enables users to easily create and customize file systems.

    An EFS file system can scale rapidly and automatically without requiring the user to provision the storage resources. EFS can support a wide range of workloads, including big data analytics, content management, media processing, home directories, and web serving.

    Learn more in our detailed guides about:

  3. FSx

    Amazon FSx is a managed file system optimized for Windows and Linux workloads. It provides high-performance file storage that can be accessed over industry-standard SMB and Lustre protocols as well as FSx for NetApp ONTAP. FSx is designed to interoperate with other AWS offerings, such as EC2, WorkSpaces, and Amazon AppStream 2.0, making it easy to integrate into your existing cloud infrastructure.

  4. File Cache

    Amazon File Cache is a service provided by AWS that enables customers to access files stored in Amazon S3 from local servers and applications with low latency and high throughput. It is designed to improve the performance of workloads that require frequent access to large amounts of data by caching frequently accessed files in local cache storage.

    The Amazon File Cache service can be deployed on a VM or a physical server, and it works with existing file servers and applications using standard protocols like NFS and SMB. The service automatically synchronizes data between the on-premises cache and Amazon S3, ensuring that the most recent version of the file is always available.

    File Cache provides a unified view of data from connected datasets as a set of directories and files. It supports features like data compression, encryption, and versioning to optimize the storage and transfer of files and provide security and compliance with regulations. It also provides monitoring and logging capabilities to help customers track performance and usage.

Best Practices for Using AWS File Storage Services

Here are some best practices for using AWS file storage solutions:

  • Use an appropriate storage solution for your use case: Choose the appropriate file storage solution that fits your use case. For example, use Amazon EFS for scalable shared storage, Amazon FSx for Lustre for HPC (high-performance computing) workloads, Amazon FSx for Windows File Server for Windows-based workloads, and Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP for supporting multi protocol (NFS, SMB, S3, and iSCSI) workloads.
  • Implement security and access controls: Ensure that appropriate security and access controls are implemented for your file storage. This includes configuring access permissions, implementing encryption at rest and in transit, and enabling network security features such as VPC security groups and network ACLs.
  • Optimize performance: Optimize the performance of your file storage by configuring appropriate settings for your workload, such as using the right file system configuration, optimizing network throughput, and enabling caching.
  • Monitor and scale storage: Monitor your file storage to ensure that it is meeting your performance and capacity needs and scale your storage as needed to accommodate growth.
  • Backup and disaster recovery: Implement a backup and disaster recovery strategy to protect your file storage data against data loss and unexpected failures. This includes taking regular backups, testing your backup and restore procedures, and implementing failover and replication solutions as appropriate.
  • Consider cost optimization: Consider cost optimization measures such as using lifecycle policies to move data to less expensive storage tiers, selecting appropriate storage classes, and optimizing the usage of storage resources to reduce costs.

AWS File Storage with Cloud Volumes ONTAP

NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP, the leading enterprise-grade storage management solution, delivers secure, proven storage management services on AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. Cloud Volumes ONTAP capacity can scale into the petabytes, and it supports various use cases such as file services, databases, DevOps, or any other enterprise workload, with a strong set of features including high availability, data protection, storage efficiencies, Kubernetes integration, and more.

In particular, Cloud Volumes ONTAP provides file services, serving NAS, including NFS, SMB / CIFS and multiprotocol access.

Learn more about how Cloud Volumes ONTAP helps to address the challenges of file sharing in these Cloud Volumes ONTAP Customer Case Studies.

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Yifat Perry, Technical Content Manager

Technical Content Manager