AWS' New Gateway-Cached Volumes Brings Primary Storage To Public Clouds7:48 PM EST Wed. Nov. 07, 2012
Amazon Web Services, which last week moved its new AWS Storage Gateway into production, quietly added a new local caching feature for primary storage that could upset vendors that already tie local storage to the AWS cloud.
Unlike the original AWS Storage Gateway, which was announced in January as a service to seamlessly back local data to cloud-based storage for seamless backups, the new gateway-cached volumes feature stores frequently-accessed primary data locally with the bulk stored on the cloud for low-cost and scalability.
The AWS Storage Gateway provides scalable and cost-effective cloud-based storage capacity with encryption for security while supporting industry-standard storage protocols compatible with customers' existing applications.
As the technology last week went into production, it included a new gateway-cached storage volume feature which brings AWS into play as an alternative to local storage arrays for storing customers' primary data.
Amazon's AWS Gateway Storage team, in an on-line blog posting, wrote that the gateway-cached volumes let customers store primary data in Amazon S3 via the standard iSCSI interface, minimizing the need to expand their local storage hardware infrastructure to handle future data growth.
Users can mount the gateway-cached volume as an iSCSI device to an on-premises file server. As an example, the team said that a 10-TB copy of the company's primary data can be sent to the volume where the AWS Storage Gateway will upload and store it in Amazon S3.
In that same example, the users could also provision 2 TB of on-premises storage capacity that can be used as a local cache to store the most frequently-accessed data of that 10 TB of primary data.
That 2 TB of on-premises cache would then provide high-speed access to the primary data while keeping the bulk of that data on the cloud, thereby cutting back on the amount of storage capacity customers need to directly manage, the AWS Gateway Storage team said.
Tying local storage to public cloud storage has become a major goal of a number of vendors, particularly startups, which see this as a way to compete against larger, more established storage vendors such as EMC or NetApp, which sell arrays designed to keep all of a business' data stored locally.
NEXT: Potential Impact Of AWS Gateway-Cached Volumes
Startup vendors in the cloud storage space that take advantage of Amazon and other public clouds for primary storage include Nasuni and TwinStrata, both based in Natick, Mass.
It is also likely the reason Microsoft last month said it is acquiring StorSimple, a startup developer of hardware appliances that provide both local storage and a gateway to cloud storage offerings.
Microsoft has yet to disclose its plans for StorSimple, but with the acquisition, it will get the ability to add a gateway to its Azure public cloud similar to that of the AWS Storage Gateway.
Greg Knieriemen, vice president of marketing at Chi Corp., a Cleveland, Ohio-based storage solution provider, said the AWS gateway-cached volumes sound very much like what StorSimple was doing.
Knieriemen said he could see this as a potential threat to other vendors, but for now it is more of a first step in the development of a complete business-class cloud infrastructure.
"I see this as a baby step," he said. "This focuses on storage. But take it two or three steps forward and you see converged infrastructure. Amazon already has the compute technology. With Amazon moving in this direction, it picks up the game quite a bit."
While the AWS gateway-cached volumes might not necessarily compete directly with companies like Nasuni or TwinStrata, which provide more complete offerings for customers, it does represent a serious business opportunity for the channel, Knieriemen said.
"It is curious: Who architects the solution on the end-user side?" he said. "It seems to be a big channel opportunity. Amazon doesn't have the field resources to implement it. But, it would work well with services providers."
PUBLISHED NOV. 7, 2012