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Amazon S3 OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

Amazon S3 is #5 ranked solution in top Public Cloud Storage Services. IT Central Station users give Amazon S3 an average rating of 8 out of 10. Amazon S3 is most commonly compared to Oracle Cloud Object Storage:Amazon S3 vs Oracle Cloud Object Storage. The top industry researching this solution are professionals from a computer software company, accounting for 33% of all views.
What is Amazon S3?

Amazon Simple Storage Service is storage for the Internet. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers.

Amazon S3 has a simple web services interface that you can use to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web. It gives any developer access to the same highly scalable, reliable, fast, inexpensive data storage infrastructure that Amazon uses to run its own global network of web sites. The service aims to maximize benefits of scale and to pass those benefits on to developers.

Amazon S3 was previously known as S3, Simple Storage Service.

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Archived Amazon S3 Reviews (more than two years old)

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Adi Levin
Technical Director at a healthcare company with 5,001-10,000 employees
Real User
High Availability, with High Performance, IAM access control, and server-side encryption at a low cost

Pros and Cons

  • "It's good for starting up because you only pay for what you use."
  • "A feature that should be included is to find and provide a HIPPA compliant solution for the Presigned URL."

What is our primary use case?

The primary use case of this solution is for the storage of large amounts of data.

It's a public cloud deployment model that anyone can deploy.

There is no need to upgrade as they don't have versions, it's a managed service, it's hybrid. There are changes that we make internally. It's Amazon S3.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are the high availability, high performance, IAM access control, and server-side encryption.

What needs improvement?

Some of the areas that could be improved are the dashboard, and to have a richer functionality.

Because there are so many services offered by Amazon, they can do anything. If we were to add anything it wouldn't be anything inside of it, but services on top of it. 

There is a concern with security. In one of our main use cases, we prescreen, but we have to create a gateway or layer on top of it to access the data in that particular case. Because the user accesses the data, they to be authenticated before doing so. 

It indicates that the users of our systems need to gain access to this data. Amazon allows access with this mechanism called Presigned URL. 

We need to share files, so we upload the file and request a link from Amazon, which allows you to share with anyone. The link is signed, which is the reason it is called Presigned. However, this sign is not compliant with internet regulations.

In our company, we are concerned with privacy regulations. In the United States, there is a law and regulation that is called HIPPA. It's a regulation on how to keep patients' data private and how to protect it. Amazon S3 is eligible for HIPPA compliance, but not with the Presigned URL.

This is very important and because we cannot use the Presigned URL, we have to build the layer on top of Amazon S3. As a result of having to do this, we lose performance, availability, and we lose some benefits of Amazon S3.

A feature that should be included is to find and provide a HIPPA compliant solution for the Presigned URL.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This a stable solution. We are not aware of any technical issues.

We are a large company and everyone uses this solution. Approximately one hundred users in different areas made up of developers and administrators.

While we have a small technical team, there is almost no maintenance with this solution. It's fully managed.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This solution is scalable.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is very good. 

They are very professional and they respond quickly. If they don't have a solution, they will contact they development team in Amazon and provide you with a detailed response with a solution to resolve the issue. 

They are very thorough and I really appreciated it. They helped me.

I am more than satisfied with the support and would recommend using the support.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We have not used any previous cloud-based solutions.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward.

The download is very easy and can be used in seconds.

What about the implementation team?

I performed the implementation of this solution.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

This solution has reasonable pricing and a low cost.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We didn't evaluate other options. Amazon accounts are straightforward. 

There is always a choice on whether or not you will use the cloud. If you make the choice to use the cloud then you can choose if you are just using Google or Microsoft. When you already have an account with Amazon, your choice is Amazon S3.

There are other solutions, but for us the choice to use Amazon S3 was clear.

What other advice do I have?

It's difficult to offer advice as it depends on the use case and what this solution is intended for.

This solution is managed fully, and there is no need for upgrades or anything. It's cloud-based. If you just Gmail, you don't upgrade Gmail.

I would recommend this solution for companies of any size. It's good for starting up because you only pay for what you use. It's internet-capable, making it good for any company.

I would rate this solution a ten out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
ITCS user
OS, Network and Storage Firmware Specialist at a tech vendor with 10,001+ employees
Real User
I used the solution to prove my concept before deploying it on real hardware

Pros and Cons

  • "Set up a performance and stress-based test suite to measure the endurance of a web application on Amazon AWS cloud system using S3 as the back-end storage infrastructure."
  • "I used Amazon AWS/S3 solution to prove my concept before deploying it on real hardware. It was a great experience and was really scalable."
  • "The down side is the web app should be aware of all the features that S3 provides in order to leverage its full potential."
  • "Maybe they need to expand their range of physical locations."

What is our primary use case?

Set up a performance and stress-based test suite to measure the endurance of a web application on Amazon AWS cloud system using S3 as the back-end storage infrastructure. 

How has it helped my organization?

In order to test application and measure its performance, it is not possible to buy the real hardware at the infant stage of product development. Hence, I used Amazon AWS/S3 solution to prove my concept before deploying it on real hardware. It was a great experience and was really scalable.

What is most valuable?

S3 provides various other ways than what a traditional web app provides. The down side is the web app should be aware of all the features that S3 provides in order to leverage its full potential.

What needs improvement?

It is a great product now. Maybe they need to expand their range of physical locations.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Learn what your peers think about Amazon S3. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: December 2021.
554,676 professionals have used our research since 2012.
ITCS user
Independent Analyst and Advisory Consultant at Server StorageIO - www.storageio.com
Consultant
Cloud Conversations: AWS S3 Overview

What is our primary use case?

PART I For those not familiar, Simple Storage Services (S3), Glacier and Elastic Block Storage (EBS) are part of the AWS cloud storage portfolio of services. There are several other storage and data related service for little data database (SQL and NoSql based) other offerings include compute, data management, application and networking for different needs shown in the following image. AWS%202.jpg" width="448" height="252" style="cursor: pointer; max-width: 100%; height: auto; vertical-align: middle;">  AWS Services Console via www.amazon.com Simple Storage Service (S3) is commonly used in the context of cloud storage and object storage accessed via its S3 API. S3 can be used externally from outside AWS as well as within or via other AWS services. There…

What is our primary use case?

PART I

For those not familiar, Simple Storage Services (S3), Glacier and Elastic Block Storage (EBS) are part of the AWS cloud storage portfolio of services. There are several other storage and data related service for little data database (SQL and NoSql based) other offerings include compute, data management, application and networking for different needs shown in the following image.

AWS%202.jpg" width="448" height="252" style="cursor: pointer; max-width: 100%; height: auto; vertical-align: middle;"> 

AWS Services Console via www.amazon.com

Simple Storage Service (S3) is commonly used in the context of cloud storage and object storage accessed via its S3 API. S3 can be used externally from outside AWS as well as within or via other AWS services. There are various S3 modes including standard, Reduced Redundancy (RR) and Infrequent Access (IA). For example with Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) including via the Amazon Storage Gateway. Glacier is the AWS cold or deep storage service for inactive data and is a companion to S3.

S3 is well suited for both big and little data repositories of objects ranging from backup to archive to active video images and much more. In fact if you are using some of the different AaaS or SaaS services including backup or file and video sharing, those may be using S3 as its back-end storage repository. For example NetFlix leverages various AWS capabilities as part of its data and applications infrastructure.

AWS basics

AWS consists of multiple regions that contain multiple availability zones where data and applications are supported from.

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Note that objects stored in a region never leave that region, such as data stored in the EU west never leave Ireland, or data in the US East never leaves Virginia.

AWS does support the ability for user controlled movement of data between regions for business continuance (BC), high availability (HA), and disaster recovery (DR). Read more here at the AWS Security and Compliance site.

PART II

For those not familiar, Simple Storage Services (S3), Glacier and Elastic Block Storage (EBS) are part of the AWS cloud storage portfolio of services. With S3, you specify a region where a bucket is created that will contain objects that can be written, read, listed and deleted. You can create multiple buckets in a region with unlimited number of objects ranging from 1 byte to 5 Tb in size per bucket. Each object has a unique, user or developer assigned access key. In addition to indicating which AWS region, S3 buckets and objects are provisioned using different levels of availability, durability, SLA’s and costs (view S3 SLA’s here).

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Cost will vary depending on the AWS region being used, along if Standard or Reduced Redundancy Storage (RSS) selected. Standard S3 storage is designed with 99.999999999% durability (how many copies exists) and 99.99% availability (how often can it be accessed) on an annual basis capable of two data centers becoming un-available.

As its name implies, for a lower fee and level of durability, S3 RRS has an annual durability of 99.999% and availability of 99.99% capable of a single data center loss. In the following figure durability is how many copies of data exist spread across different servers and storage systems in various data centers and availability zones.

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What would you put in RRS vs. Standard S3 storage'

Items that need some level of persistence that can be refreshed, recreated or restored from some other place or pool of storage such as thumbnails or static content or read caches. Other items would be those that you could tolerant some downtime while waiting for data to be restored, recovered or rebuilt from elsewhere in exchange for a lower cost.

Different AWS regions can be chosen for regulatory compliance requirements, performance, SLA’s, cost and redundancy with authentication mechanisms including encryption (SSL and HTTPS) to make sure data is kept secure. Various rights and access can be assigned to objects including making them public or private. In addition to logical data protection (security, identity and access management (IAM), encryption, access control) policies also apply to determine level of durability and availability or accessibility of buckets and objects. Other attributes of buckets and objects include life-cycle management polices and logging of activity to the items. Also part of the objects are meta data containing information about the data being stored shown in a generic example below.

AWS%2010.jpg" width="435" height="250" style="cursor: pointer; max-width: 100%; height: auto; vertical-align: middle;">

Access to objects is via standard REST and SOAP interfaces with an Application Programming Interface (API). For example default access is via HTTP along with a Bit Torrent interface with optional support via various gateways, appliances and software tools.

AWS%2011.jpg" width="435" height="250" style="cursor: pointer; max-width: 100%; height: auto; vertical-align: middle;"> 

Example cloud and object storage access

The above figure via Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press) shows a generic example applicable to AWS services including S3 being accessed in different ways. For example I access my S3 buckets and objects via Jungle Disk (one of the tools I use for data protection) that can also access my Rackspace Cloudfiles data. In the following figure there are examples of some of my S3 buckets and objects used by different applications and tools that I have in various AWS regions.

AWS%2012.jpg" width="453" height="253" style="cursor: pointer; max-width: 100%; height: auto; vertical-align: middle;"> 

AWS S3 buckets and objects in different regions

Note that I sometimes use other AWS regions outside the US for testing purposes, for compliance purpose my production, business or personal data is only in the US regions.

The following figure is a generic example of how cloud and object storage are accessed using different tools, hardware, software and API’s along with gateways. AWS is an example of what is shown in the following figure as a Cloud Service and S3, EBS or Glacier as cloud storage. Common example API commands are also shown which will vary by different vendors, products or solution definitions or implementations. While Amazon S3 API which is REST HTTP based has become an industry de facto standard, there are other API’s including CDMI (Cloud Data Management Interface) developed by SNIA which has gained ISO accreditation.

AWS%2013.jpg" width="435" height="250" style="cursor: pointer; max-width: 100%; height: auto; vertical-align: middle;"> 

Cloud and object storage access example via Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking

In addition to using Jungle Disk which manages my AWS keys and objects that it creates, I can also access my S3 objects via the AWS management console and web tools, also via third-party tools including Cyberduck.

PART III

AWS%2014.jpg" width="435" height="250" style="cursor: pointer; max-width: 100%; height: auto; vertical-align: middle;"> 

Cloud and object storage access example via Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking

AWS cloud storage gateway

In 2012 AWS released their Storage Gateway that you can use and try for free here using either an EC2 Amazon Machine Instance (AMI), or deployed locally on a hypervisor such as VMware vSphere/ESXi. In general, the gateway is an AWS alternative to using third product gateway, appliances of software tools for accessing AWS storage.

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Image courtesy of www.amazon.com

When deployed locally on a VM, the storage gateway communicates using the AWS API’s back to the S3 and EBS (depending on how configured) storage services. Locally, the storage gateway presents an iSCSI block access method for Windows or other servers to use.

There are two modes with one being Gateway-Stored and the other Gateway-Cached. Gateway-Stored uses your primary storage mapped to the storage gateway as primary storage and asynchronous (time delayed) snapshots (user defined) to S3 via EBS volumes. This is a handy way to have local storage for low latency access, yet use AWS for HA, BC and DR, along with a means for doing migration into or out of AWS. Gateway-cache mode places primary storage in AWS S3 with a local cached copy to reduce network overhead.

When I tried the gateway a month or so ago, using both modes, I was not able to view any of my data using standard S3 tools. For example if I looked in my S3 buckets the objects do not appear, something that AWS said had to do with where and how those buckets and objects are managed. Otoh, I was able to see EBS snapshots for the gateway-stored mode including using that as a means of moving data between local and AWS EC2 instances. Note that regardless of the AWS storage gateway mode, some local cache storage is needed, and likewise some EBS volumes will be needed depending on what mode is used.

When I used the gateway, a Windows Server mounted the iSCSI volume presented by the storage gateway and in turn served that to other systems as a shared folder. Thus while having block such as iSCSI is nice, a NAS (NFS or CIFS) presentation and access mode would also be useful. However more on the storage gateway in a future post. Also note that beyond the free trial period (you may have to pay for storage being used) for using the gateway, there are also fees for S3 and EBS storage volumes use.

How much do these AWS services cost'

Fees vary depending on which region is selected, amount of space capacity, level or durability and availability, performance along with type of service. S3 pricing can be found here including a free trial tier along with optional fees. 

Note that there is a myth that cloud vendors have hidden fees which may be the case for some, however so far I have not seen that to be the case with AWS. However, as a consumer, designer or architect, doing your homework and looking at the above links among others you can be ready and understand the various fees and options. Hence like procuring traditional hardware, software or services, do your due diligence and be an informed shopper.

Some more service cost notes include:

Note that with S3 Standard and RRS objects, there is not a charge for deletion of objects. 

As with Standard volumes, volume storage for Provisioned IOPS volumes is charged by the amount you provision in GB per month. With Provisioned IOPS volumes, you are also charged by the amount you provision in IOPS pro-rated as a percentage of days you have it in use for the month.

Thus important for cloud storage planning to know not only your space requirements, also IOP’s, bandwidth, and level of availability as well as durability. so for Standard volumes, you will likely see a lower number of I/O requests on your bill than is seen by your application unless you sync all of your I/Os to disk. Thus pay attention to what your needs are in terms of availability (accessibility), durability (resiliency or survivability), space capacity, and performance.

Leverage AWS CloudWatch tools and API’s to monitoring that matter for timely insight and situational awareness into how EBS, EC2, S3, Glacier, Storage Gateway and other services are being used (or costing you). Also visit the AWS service health status dashboard to gain insight into how things are running to help gain confidence with cloud services and solutions.

When it comes to Cloud, Virtualization, Data and Storage Networking along with AWS among other services, tools and technologies including object storage, we are just scratching the surface here.

Hopefully this helps to fill in some gaps giving more information addressing questions, along with generating new ones to prepare for your journey with clouds. After all, don’t be scared of clouds. Be prepared, do your homework, identify your concerns and then address those to gain cloud confidence.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user572622
BI Architect & Developer (contract) at a retailer with 501-1,000 employees
Vendor
Enabled us to recover internal document storage and replace it with offline storage. The web interface was frustrating when dealing with a large numbers of files.

What is most valuable?

Speed, size, and security are the most valuable features.

This was the company’s first foray into storing data offsite. The old way of thinking was that this was too dangerous to contemplate and you can get hacked either way.

How has it helped my organization?

This solution, indirectly, allowed us to recover internal and expensive document storage and replace it with cheaper offline storage.

Capacity-wise, we’re looking at 200GB of transactional data in Redshift. More importantly, you have a lot of storage of other assets, some slow and some fast. These include document archives and web images. This is several years of documents of more than 500GB, and most of it will remain untouched.

That stuff ends up in S3 Glacier storage. It is not really that large in the grand scheme of things, but certainly does not warrant the use of expensive internal storage systems or hiding the data on backup tape somewhere.

What needs improvement?

The web interface was frustrating when dealing with large numbers of files. We ended up using an interface client (via FTP, I think) which also had its own issues.

How do you make it easy to manage 50K documents in one folder using a web interface? I guess some more advanced filtering and selecting capabilities would have been nice, but it was in the early days. It would only read about 120 files into the cache. If you wanted to remove 1000 out of 2000 documents, you had to continually repeat your actions.

This happened surprisingly regularly when you have a live data transfer that ships 100 files per cycle and does 20 cycles per hour. It could eventually delete them itself, but we didn’t have time to engineer that piece.

Amazon’s approach was to delete the old files after a certain number of days. That is money in the bank for them right there.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used this solution for three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

There were no stability issues.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support always met my expectations.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

There were business intelligence solutions via the web. We had similar home-grown reporting applications running on in-house hardware for over 10 years prior, but this was directly impacting our ERP resources.

How was the initial setup?

It was exceptionally simple to configure servers, although most of this was done by the boss.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Even though it appears cheap, be careful on how you use it. Optimizing early will save money spent on storage and resources long term, so make it part of the design process. The beauty is you can control it at a very fine level.

What other advice do I have?

Follow the guidance. The documentation is excellent. Take the time to get it right.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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