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A Server That Grows: Understanding the AWS Elastic File System
Posted on Oct 12, 2020 8:30 am

Starting to build a website or web application that might see rapid growth? AWS offers scalability with their elastic file system.

The chances are high that if you’re running AWS containers, you already know about Amazon EFS (Amazon Elastic File System). Developers building applications that expand rapidly need it due to the scalability it offers.

Amazon EFS is dubbed ‘elastic’ since it automatically grows and shrinks as files are added or removed. The interface is straightforward, letting you design and configure the file system you need without any hassles.

To learn more about it, continue reading below.

Cloud Storage Quick and Simple

As you know, cloud storage is a computing model. It permits the storage of data using a cloud computing provider.

Cloud storage came about to solve the problem of ever-increasing storage needs and costs associated with buying and managing the infrastructure needed to support storing vast amounts of data.

The 3 Types of AWS Cloud Storage

AWS provides three cloud storage types to its clients: object storage, file storage, and block storage. While all are storage, they differ a little, so we’re going to break it down for the new kids on the block.

Object Storage

When you’re developing apps in the cloud infrastructure, you need the advantages in object storage scalability and the metadata characteristics.

Object storage solutions such as Amazon Glacier and AWS Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) are a fit for projects where you are developing modern apps from scratch that need adaptability and scale, where you may even need to import existing data stores for backup, analytics, or archive.

File Storage

When many applications require access to shared files, it requires a filing system. Traditionally, this sort of storage is generally supported by a Network Attached Storage (NAS) server. Still, modern cloud solutions show that some of the ideal use case scenarios are for the AWS Elastic File System (Amazon EFS) for development environments, large content repositories, media stores, or user home directories.

Block Storage

This type of storage is mandated for other enterprise applications such as ERP systems or databases as they require dedicated, lower latency for each host. Block-based cloud solutions for this type of storage suggest Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) and EC2 Instance Storage are excellent alternatives to analogous to direct-attached storage (DAS) or a cargo area Network (SAN).

Advantages of AWS Elastic File System for the Cloud

If you’ve been imagining taking your onsite infrastructure to the Cloud, AWS EFS could be what you’re looking for and has options that may tip the scales in your favor.

There are many advantages to consider when it comes to AWS EFS. For example, did you know that it works similar to any other Network Attached Storage (NAS) as it uses the same standard NFS protocol from your applications’ viewpoint?

All you need to do is choose a local path in your EC2 instance and attach it to the EFS. It only looks at the path which will appear as it’s accessing local files. To get started with EFS, you won’t need to perform any application modifications in most situations.

Advantages of the AWS Elastic File System

Your business is considering a move to the cloud, and that is great news. There are many factors to consider, and we can help you learn a bit about them. To start, let’s take a look at a few things that make AWS EFS an incredible data storage system when you’re planning a move to the cloud

Elasticity – It’s in the Name

Without requiring you to configure a thing, EFS can grow as large as you need it. When you remove data, it automatically shrinks back down. You no longer need to worry that you’ll run out of space that used to cause apps to fail.

Expense Savings

With AWS EFS, there are no over-provisioned storage payments to worry about since you only pay for what you use.

Zero to Minimal Code Changes

The simplicity of just creating a local path where you store your application’s code or user files and mounting it to EFS speaks for itself. That’s all there is to it; no code modifications are necessary.

Migrating to AWS is Simplified

You can move web apps to AWS in a blink using EFS taking full advantage of its no code modifications simplicity, and to get started, you won’t need to call any AWS APIs inside your code to make it work.

Zero to Minimal Vendor Lock-in

You don’t need to call any AWS-specific APIs or make any specific AWS changes since it uses a standard protocol like NFS.

Essential Services like Auto Scaling Are Simple to Implement

You can set up stateless EC2 servers very quickly due to using EFS to store files that would be stored locally otherwise. You will find this step essential before taking advantage of critical cloud services such as Auto Scaling. One of the main barriers to using Auto Scaling before EFS was that applications required modifications to be compatible with stateless servers.

AWS external data storage and S3 are also options that come recommended. Still, with EFS, there is the option to include stateless applications with almost no code modifications required.

Compatible with EC2 Instances and On-Premises Servers

Consistency and file locking are essential when you can have many EC2 servers accessing the same files simultaneously. Since EFS has it handled, there is nothing to worry about here.

The AWS Key Management Service Supports Encryption at Rest

Right now, most businesses are concerned about keeping their data encrypted. What’s more, if you are one of them, AWS KMS can manage encryption keys for you in the Elastic File System. When you know this is taken care of, you have one less worry.

High availability

If you’ve already looked into EBS or S3, then you may be surprised to learn that EFS gives you the same data replication that you find on them or any other data storage solution in AWS. So, this is a significant improvement over needing to set up and manage a Network Attached Storage (NAS) on your own.

Is AWS Elastic File System Right for Your Business?

When considering a cloud solution, there are many options. Deciding which one is right for your business takes pulling all the teams together, presenting what you’ve learned about each one, and then taking their feedback.

Looking at the key features can help put it all in perspective. When we look at AWS EFS, there are many to consider; here are a few of the standout features.

Storage is Shared 

Whether your team is accessing from your onsite storage or the Cloud, your files will be accessible. Besides, EC2 instances near one thousand can be accessed concurrently from the Cloud, over VPN, or on AWS Direct Connect.

These capabilities make EFS an excellent option for hybrid styled solutions with file access possible over several AWS Availability Zones (AZs) or Regions, making international remote work and collaboration straightforward.

Scalable Performance

You can depend on AWS EFS for small latency using IOPS and throughput. These scale with use and attached instances. What this means for your business is that as your storage size grows, so does performance.

At its top performance, EFS provides 10 GB/sec throughput and 500k IOPS. You’ll have no fears that you’ll run out of space or pay for the storage you aren’t using. EFS scales up and down automatically as you add or remove data.

Compliant and Secure

Using your current security infrastructure, AWS EFS provides multiple layers of security. Amazon Identity and Access Management (IAM) can be added to manage roles and VPC security groups to define specific file permissions using POSIX.

Common regulatory standards such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, and SOC come built into AWS EFS along with the capability to meet other standards if required.

Where to Go from Here With AWS?

Moving to the AWS Cloud doesn’t need to be a harrowing experience. The experts at Netdepot have been helping businesses for over 20 years create strategic infrastructure solutions that maximize their business productivity and enhance security.

Discovering new ways to work can provide excellent growth opportunities. Moving to the AWS Cloud can be one of them. If your business develops apps that grow, EFS can be the solution you need. 

There are many factors to consider when deciding if you should be using file, object, or block storage for your cloud application deployment. The good news is there is no wrong answer. 

Security With Netdepot

Did you know that Security as a Service by NetDepot helps keep your data secure? What’s more, you should make sure you backup when using AWS, and NetDepot offers DRaaS for any platform. If you’re not sure what this is, let us know. 

Next Steps

Ready to make a move to AWS EFS? That’s excellent news. 

If you still have questions, that’s ok. 

The experts at Netdepot have the answers you need. Whether you’re ready to move to AWS EFS or discuss the S3 or EBS options, the choice is up to you. 

Get in touch today to get the answers you need. 

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