Understanding AWS Storage Gateway: What it does and how to implement it

Drew Bixby
Read Time: 2 minutes

Anyone familiar with the cloud space is probably aware of the dizzying array of specialized cloud services for things like data backup, mobile content delivery, media streaming, and more. Among these functions, data storage and backup is one of the most in-demand. Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides one of the most popular storage and backup solutions with their AWS Storage Gateway service.

What is AWS Storage Gateway?

First, It’s important to note that AWS Storage Gateway is not an all-in-one backup solution by itself. Backups and transfers are still initiated and managed by the existing host, AWS Storage Gateway just acts as a portal that seamlessly extends existing data storage infrastructure by providing it access to an additional holding place in the cloud for data and/or backup snapshots. This allows AWS Storage Gateway an enormous amount of flexibility. It can be integrated into many existing enterprise data storage configurations with minimal or no hardware changes.

Amazon has provided a great introductory video to their AWS Storage Gateway service.

How do I use AWS Storage Gateway?

AWS Storage Gateway is typically installed as a virtual machine on a host in a data center. When activated, the AWS Management Console is used to provision storage volumes and then these volumes can be mounted to on-premises servers as iSCSI devices. At this point, the mounted volumes can be used by local applications just like any other storage volume.

There are 3 main configurations for AWS Storage Gateway depending on IT needs:

  • Gateway-Stored Volume Architecture
  • Gateway-Cached volume Architecture
  • Gateway-VTL Architecture.

Gateway-Stored Volume Architecture

This is the most common configuration of AWS Storage Gateway and it allows enterprises to store their primary data locally while intermittently backing up that data to the AWS cloud. The Gateway-Stored configuration allows companies to still have low latency access to their entire dataset, but it also ensures durable off-site backups. Data written to the gateway-stored volumes is stored locally and backed up to Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) in the form of Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) snapshots. An overview of this configuration can be seen in the figure below.

Source: Gateway-Stored Volume Architecture

Gateway-Cached Volume Architecture

This configuration lets you use Amazon S3 as primary data storage while caching frequently accessed data locally. The Gateway-Cached configuration minimizes the need to keep growing local storage infrastructure while still enabling low-latency access to frequently used data. An overview of this architecture is shown below.

Source: Gateway-Cached Volume Architecture

Gateway-VTL Architecture

This configuration provides a durable, cost-effective solution for archiving data in the cloud. This setup is primarily for company’s using tape-based data archival systems. It enables an enterprise to virtually extend its existing tape-based storage infrastructure to the cloud by asynchronously archiving company data to virtual Amazon Glacier storage volumes. The figure below provides an overview of this architecture.

Source: Gateway-VTL Architecture

No matter what configuration is chosen, AWS Storage Gateway provides a durable, cost-effective solution for data storage that is probably already compatible with existing data infrastructure. DoubleHorn offers AWS Storage Gateway and other Cloud Data Storage and Backup solutions for IT infrastructure. Reserve a complimentary cloud consultation today by contacting us at solutions@doublehorn.com or 855-61-VOICE (86423) to learn more.