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FSx Gateway: Amazon FSx for Windows at On-Premises Speed

What Is FSx Gateway?

Amazon FSx File Gateway, or FSx File, is a file gateway that provides low latency access from on-premises facilities to cloud-based Amazon FSx for Windows File Server file shares. FSx Gateway lets you use Amazon FSx for Windows File Server as if it was deployed on-premises.

Some organizations use on-premises file storage only because of certain latency and bandwidth requirements. FSx File Gateway is a new type of the AWS Storage Gateway solution, which provides fast local access to Windows file shares, fully managed in the AWS cloud by FSx for Windows File Server.

Related content: Read our guide to AWS Storage Gateway

In this article:

The Need for FSx Gateway

On-premises desktop applications are often latency-sensitive. This may cause delays for end-users. It can also lead to slow performance when users directly access AWS-based files from remote locations. Additionally, when a large number of users can directly access cloud data, shared bandwidth resources, like AWS Direct Connect links, may become congested.

FSx Gateway lets you use Amazon FSx for Windows File Server for latency-sensitive workloads. It can also help replace on-premises storage with a fully-managed, reliable and scalable alternative based in AWS.

FSx Gateway provides an SMB file protocol server that enables connections as well as an on-premises cache for frequently used data. This enables the same low latency as experienced within the AWS cloud.

File system operations, like reading and writing files, are performed against this local cache. In the background, FSx Gateway synchronizes all changed data to Amazon FSx for Windows File Server. Amazon Gateway can also help minimize the amount of data transfer and optimize the usage of network bandwidth to AWS.

Related content: Read our guide to FSx for Windows

FSx Gateway Benefits

Here are several benefits of Amazon FSx File Gateway:

  • Low latency performance for your frequently-accessed data—the performance offered by FSx Gateway enables seamless read and write activity when sharing files between on-premises locations and the AWS cloud.
  • Seamlessly access Windows-native SMB capabilities—notable capabilities include data deduplication, NTFS, and integration with Active Directory (AD).
  • Access to backup features—Amazon FSx for Windows File Server backup options include automated and crash-consistent backups. You can use these features in combination with AWS Backup, which enables you to centralize both retention and backup processes.

How Amazon FSx File Gateway Works

To use FSx Gateway, you need the following:

  • One or multiple running FSx file systems,
  • On-premises access to Amazon FSx for Windows File Server established using a VPN or an AWS Direct Connect connection.

You can then download and deploy an appliance into an on-premises environment, and then connect and configure file shares.

Here is a quick rundown of the steps you need to perform in order to use FSx Gateway:

  1. Download and deploy an appliance into your on-premises environment. It can be either an Amazon Storage Gateway Hardware Appliance or the FSx File VMware virtual appliance.
  2. Activate the FSx File by using either the Storage Gateway API or the Storage Gateway console. You can also create an FSx File from an Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) image.
  3. Join the gateway to your Microsoft Active Directory domain. You can do this from the Storage Gateway console.
  4. Attach your gateway to an existing FSx for Windows File Server. You can do this through the Storage Gateway console. This step ensures all shares on the server are available as shares on your FSx Gateway.

Once the gateway is attached, you can use a client to browse and connect to file shares on FSx File that correspond to a selected FSx File. After your file shares are connected, you can read and write files locally while using all features available on FSx for Windows File Server.

FSx File maps all local file shares as well as their content to file shares stored remotely within FSx for Windows File Server. It offers a 1:1 correspondence between remote and locally-visible files and their shares.

FSx File Gateway is available in all AWS regions that support FSx for Windows File Server.

Amazon FSx File Gateway: Example Configuration

Amazon offers several FSx File Gateway deployment options, including:

  • Deploying a hardware appliance into an on-premises environment.
  • Deploying FSx File as a virtual machine (VM) into an on-premises environment, such as VMware ESXi, Linux KVM or Microsoft Hyper-V.
  • Deploying FSx File in the cloud as an EC2 instance.

When you start creating a gateway via the AWS Storage Gateway Management Console, all available options will be displayed alongside setup instructions relevant for each option.

Here is an example configuration that uses an EC2 instance for the gateway:

fsxfgw_host_platforms-1-1Image Source: AWS

Here is a general configuration example for a gateway created within the US East (N. Virginia) region:

fsxfgw-gateway-details-1Image Source: AWS

Here are the details of a file system that runs within an Amazon VPC located in the US East (N. Virginia) region:

fsx-details-1-1Image Source: AWS

Note that the gateway is created and activated within the same region as the source FSx file system. The gateway VM is deployed as an EC2 instance that runs in another VPC, within the US West (Oregon) region, with a peering connection between the two VPCs. This allows fast access for resources running in the US West region.

fsxfgw-attachment-2-1Image Source: AWS

Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP

In collaboration with NetApp, AWS has launched Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP, a new cloud-based managed shared file and block storage service that brings the best of both worlds to their customers.

FSx for ONTAP delivers NFS, SMB and iSCSI storage powered by NetApp’s advanced data management system, with features and benefits that go beyond other AWS offerings:

Click here for a step-by-step walkthrough on how to set up your own FSx for ONTAP environment with BlueXP Console.

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Yifat Perry, Technical Content Manager

Technical Content Manager