Thursday, August 21, 2008

Amazon Web Services adds Elastic Block Store

We have known about it for months, but very few have been able to play with it until now. Several months ago Amazon started talking about "Persistant Storage" becoming available on their platform and today it is available to everyone. It is labeled as Amazon Elastic Block Storage (EBS). At DigitalChalk we have been looking forward to this for several reasons. The most immediate benefit that I see getting from this is the ability to have a block of storage that we can put the data store on for our databases. Right now we have very frequent and bandwidth intensive backup solutions in place that snapshot our data and put it into S3. With ESB we will be able to allocate a block of storage up to a TB in size and then simply attach that to any running EC2 instance, essentially making it a SAN in the clouds. Amazon states that "each storage volume is automatically replicated within the same availability zone" helping with the backup scenerios and reliability of data. It doesn't seem to have it across data centers, but this is at least going to help prevent failure due to a single piece of hardware. They have also included the ability to create a "point-in-time snapshot of volumes" which will be extremely useful for the movement of data and quickly standing up a duplicate instance for testing of any sort. This is also going to be helpful as we continue to consult and help companies move their infrastructure to the clouds. We are finding that many we help have a hard time mentally moving from the physical box where they can just add hard drive capacity and rely on a file system. This will allow us to gradually and easily move their applications "as is" to the clouds without having to introduce S3 from the start for reliable storage. I am looking forward to using this service to improve our process at DigitalChalk. The next on the list to come out of the private beta is SimpleDB for me. We have already architected some solutions for SimpleDB and and just itching for its release.