Industry News Desk
Amazon’s Elastic Block Store Opens Up S3 and The Cloud
The Big SAN in the Sky
Aug. 25, 2008 06:00 AM
Cloud infrastructure providers like Amazon are putting out the technology that the enterprise and SaaS providers need to move beyond testing the waters and take advantage of the Cloud today. The latest, and most important from the data storage perspective, is Amazon’s Elastic Block Store, or EBS.
Datasets, Throughput and Snapshots
Another benefit of EBS is taking advantage of the snapshotting feature. You can snapshot a volume to S3, where it is stored with the redundancy and durability of all objects on S3. Moreover, successive snapshots are incremental providing a very powerful and efficient backup capability for volumes.The ability to take snapshots is a complex feature, but RightScale provides some cool scripts to make it even easier to freeze all data access while the snapshot is taken to ensure that the data on the snapshot is consistent.
The RightScale Dashboard supports all the features of EBS and offers a number of additional features such as configuring volumes to automatically be attached to servers when these launch and track the ancestry of a volume or snapshot. What does EBS enable? In short: traditional processing on large datasets and reliable storage for many servers. But let's look at these two areas one-by-one.
Amazon Web Services are designed for scale. EC2, S3, SQS, and SDB are ideally suited for building large systems that process huge data volumes. The catch has been that they are geared towards modern service oriented systems using a non-relational database like Amazon SDB, and thrive on large numbers of simple servers (EC2). Business users have more traditional applications, such as relational databases, that require large datasets stored in a file system with a POSIX interface. While an EC2 X-large instance comes with about 1.4TB of local disk space, it is difficult to use in a production system. Populating the disk with data at boot time can take hours and backups, replication and restoring the data in case of an instance failure are all sore points. For up to 100GB the timescales are workable, but beyond that it gets difficult.
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