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AWS Elastic File System Provides Scalable Cloud File Storage

As its Amazon S3 and Amazon Elastic Block Store storage services have matured, Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS) has turned to file storage, yesterday announcing Amazon Elastic File System (EFS) is ready for production use.

With EFS, the company said, customers using even multiple EC2 (computing) instances have low-latency access to a fully managed file system via the Network File System (NFS) protocol. "When mounted to Amazon EC2 instances, an Amazon EFS file system provides a standard file system interface and file system access semantics, allowing you to seamlessly integrate Amazon EFS with your existing applications and tools," AWS says on its EFS site. "Multiple Amazon EC2 instances can access an Amazon EFS file system at the same time, allowing Amazon EFS to provide a common data source for workloads and applications running on more than one Amazon EC2 instance."

"Amazon EFS is designed to support a broad range of file workloads -- from Big Data analytics, media processing, and genomics analysis that are massively parallelized and require high levels of throughput, to latency-sensitive use cases such as content management, home directory storage, and Web serving," the company said in a statement yesterday. "Amazon EFS is highly available and durable, redundantly storing each file system object across multiple Availability Zones."

AWS said its new file storage offering helps enterprises that move to the AWS cloud with critical workloads dependent upon Network Attached Storage (NAS). That solution is problematic for file storage because file growth is unpredictable, with long procurement times and burdensome monitoring and patch management administrative tasks. With EFS, the company said shared file systems are simple, scalable and reliable.

In a blog post, AWS spokesperson Jeff Barr provided more information on use cases for the new service.

"We are launching today after an extended preview period that gave us insights into an extraordinarily wide range of customer use cases," Barr said. "The EFS preview was a great fit for large-scale, throughput-heavy processing workloads, along with many forms of content and Web serving. During the preview we received a lot of positive feedback about the performance of EFS for these workloads, along with requests to provide equally good support for workloads that are sensitive to latency and/or make heavy use of file system metadata.

"We've been working to address this feedback and today's launch is designed to handle a very wide range of use cases. Based on what I have heard so far, our customers are really excited about EFS and plan to put it to use right away."

There is no minimum fee or setup cost for the service, for which customers pay for only the storage they use, AWS said.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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