What is AWS Storage Gateway?

What is AWS Storage Gateway?
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For a company that’s existed for some time or has relied on legacy systems, Storage Gateway is a godsend because the “old way” involves constant management and even additional staff members. With cloud services, those staff members become more available for cloud storage planning, strategy, and other tasks while the storage infrastructure operates more efficiently. This can also be gradual and coordinated so that you adopt the cloud at your own pace.

Moving data to the cloud is not quite as simple as flipping a switch. For companies that have managed their own data centers or server rooms for decades, there are a few steps to consider -- and it’s not always wise to pull the plug on an internal infrastructure quite so quickly. If a startup uses on-premise business servers and then experiences unexpected growth, abandoning those servers doesn’t make sense (even if the long-term plan is to do exactly that).

AWS Storage Gateway is a way to bridge this gap for companies of any size. It’s a hybrid storage option that connects on-premise storage -- including age-old tape backup systems -- to the cloud in a way that also provides one console to access all storage configurations.

This is accomplished through a virtual machine or by using a dedicated hardware gateway available from Amazon. Either way, the concept is the same -- AWS Storage Gateway allows companies to continue using on-site storage and backups but opens them up to the world of cloud computing to provide all of the benefits of lower costs, flexibility, less IT management overhead, and scaling up or down easily as a company changes and grows.

The Storage Gateway is available in three different versions. The Storage Gateway for Files is perhaps the most common and creates a connection between your existing storage infrastructure and AWS products such as Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service), Amazon S3 Glacier, Amazon S3 Glacier Deep Archive, and Amazon EBS (Elastic Block Store). Storage Gateway for Files is perhaps the most common offering for basic file storage needs. You might use it to perform backups of your local storage, create a content library that uses both on-premise files and the cloud, and to store the cloud database used by web apps.

Storage Gateway Virtual Tape Backup to the Cloud is the second offering and, as the name suggests, is designed for companies with a legacy backup system. More common than you might think, tape backup is still in use because of how companies created their storage libraries originally and how they need to keep using those same systems. The physical backup systems were likely expensive to install in the first place, and adding an entirely new backup system might create more problems for applications, data, and legacy storage.

A Volume Gateway is the third option available as part of Storage Gateway. With this offering, on-premise storage can attach to iSCSI block storage volumes. For your on-premise data, you can use a virtual machine or a hardware appliance that connects to AWS storage.

Benefits of AWS Storage Gateway

Companies sometimes get “stuck” using legacy storage systems or expensive hardware and software they purchased to manage their infrastructure. It’s a headache because your IT staff has to continually expand the storage, provision the volumes, patch the software, and maintain the entire system even though the infrastructure might be outdated or inefficient.

With Storage Gateway, the main advantage is that you can bridge the gap between still using those legacy storage systems but also moving to the cloud.

This means you still retain the on-premise infrastructure and won’t lose that investment, but at the same time you can move data to the cloud and expand and scale easily. It’s the best of both worlds, but also lets you embrace “the new world” of cloud storage.

Because AWS Storage Gateway uses one interface for all storage configuration, it is easier to use than relying on a legacy system -- which might involve multiple system-level interfaces running on multiple servers, backup systems, and storage arrays.

As with all cloud computing services, AWS Storage Gateway provides benefits in terms of scaling to meet demand. Yet, the costs are not fixed in a way that forces you to use certain services or pay for the infrastructure. You can retain the investment you have in local storage but also pay as you go when you expand and use the cloud for storage.

One less-than-obvious advantage to using Storage Gateway is that it is a way to move away from on-premise storage without a sudden change. You can gradually adopt cloud services and migrate your recovery backups, legacy data, and current data storage over to the cloud without a major disruption to service and without having to “start over” with cloud storage.

John Brandon

John Brandon has covered gadgets and cars for the past 12 years having published over 12,000 articles and tested nearly 8,000 products. He's nothing if not prolific. Before starting his writing career, he led an Information Design practice at a large consumer electronics retailer in the US. His hobbies include deep sea exploration, complaining about the weather, and engineering a vast multiverse conspiracy.