Amazon Web Services (AWS) — a cloud service from Amazon, provides services in the form of building blocks to create and deploy any type of application in the cloud. When these building blocks work with each other, they result in applications that are sophisticated and highly scalable.
It is always better to consider all the possibilities of data loss while setting out to design your first AWS hosted application. Systems are prone to disasters like administrative mishaps, data corruption, or malicious attacks, even with a highly resilient and durable solution. Only an effective backup strategy will mitigate these risks.
Thanks to Zmanda, Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (S3) and Glacier, we have the right services at hand to establish a cost-effective, yet practical backup solution.
If you are already an Amazon Web Services (AWS) user, you will be familiar with its Simple Storage Service (S3). S3’s scalable storage infrastructure is a popular method for saving your valuable data in the cloud; Amazon Glacier is an alternative method that is worth exploring.
Both the services are known to offer cloud-based storage, but S3 and Amazon Glacier each have their own unique benefits. So it depends on what type of data you need to store, and why to store it. Using both the services in combination might make practical and financial sense.
Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3)
Amazon Simple Storage Service, popularly known as Amazon S3, is an object storage service that offers developers and IT teams with security, performance, industry-leading scalability, and data availability. In short, customers of all sizes and industries can use Amazon S3 to store and protect any amount of their data. They can use it for a range of use cases; backup and restore, websites, mobile applications, IoT devices, archive, enterprise applications, and big data analytics.
Amazon S3’s easy-to-use management features help you organize your data and configure finely-tuned access controls that meet specific business requirements. For Amazon S3 you pay for the storage you use; there is no extra cost for the setup.
Amazon Glacier is an online data storage service provided by AWS just like popular S3 service. It provides users with a simple, secure, cloud-based data storage that can quickly be scaled up or down as needed. Want to store inactive data for the long term? Amazon glacier is perfect (although it takes three to five hours for retrieval). This long-term, slow-moving method is known as cold storage, hence the name “Glacier”.
Amazon Glacier is designed to store information that rarely needs to be retrieved, means not a good option for storing frequently accessed data. To further drive this point home, AWS occasionally charges users extra for data retrieval from Glacier, although this depends on the user’s pricing plan and the amount of data being retrieved. However, on the flip side, Glacier’s storage fees start from $0.004 per gigabyte per month, which is remarkably cheap.
Amazon S3 vs. Amazon Glacier
Both Amazon S3 and Amazon Glacier are storage solutions, but we need to know how one is different from the other and when to use them.
There are few things in common between S3 and Glacier; both are designed for high durability, allows storage of almost unlimited data quantities. However, when it comes to accessing data, they do differ. S3 is mostly used for infrequently accessed objects. On the other hand, Glacier is used to store objects that you will not need to access for extended periods—weeks, months, or even years.
Why Amazon Glacier?
AWS Glacier being low-cost cold storage serves a practical use in various cases today. Let’s have a quick look at few of them:
1. Magnetic Tape Replacements
Tape libraries are still used for storage, whether on off-site or on-premises. These on-premises or offsite tape libraries lower storage costs but require large upfront investments and specialized maintenance. On the other hand, Amazon S3 Glacier has no upfront cost and eliminates the cost and burden of maintenance.
2. Archiving Data for Regulatory Purposes
Many businesses need to keep long-term archives in order to comply with various compliance regulations. For instance, in healthcare (HIPAA, as well as many other regulations), vast amounts of patient data need to be stored for decades.
According to the Stanford Medicine 2017 Health Trends report, the sheer volume of health care data is growing at an astronomical rate: 153 exabytes (one exabyte = one billion gigabytes) were produced in 2013, and an estimated 2,314 exabytes will be produced\ in 2020, translating to an overall rate of increase at least 48 percent annually. This storage must be reliable and secured, but keeping a vast amount of data for so long can be an issue in terms of cost.
The fully loaded cost of on-premise storage, including management and security, is approximately $0.15 to $0.30 per GB per month. The cost of non-proprietary cloud solutions which meet healthcare industry requirements will run between $0.005 (5 tenths of a cent) to $0.07 per GB per month.
This storage must be reliable and secured, but keeping a vast amount of data for so long can be an issue in terms of cost. AWS Glacier fulfills all of these requirements.
3. Digital Media Asset Archival
There are usually large files involved while working with digital media. The file sizes can be gigabytes or even terabytes in size. These files need to be stored for the long term, and this can gradually end up costing a bomb. With Glacier not just storing but retrieving these files, is also easy and cost-effective.
4. Backup and Restore for Disaster Recovery Scenarios
Disasters are unpredictable, and hence, it has become crucial for every company to ensure the utmost protection of their data. AWS Glacier will provide you with secure and durable backup storage at a low cost, no matter where your environment is either running on AWS cloud or relying on hybrid solutions.
Even during a situation where you have to restore your data, various retrieval options will ensure that your business is up and running in no time.
5. Long Term Data Libraries
Many libraries and government agencies need to store away lots of data for the long term. For these institutions, the cost is not a concern, but the durability of the objects is quite a priority. Moreover, with such a large amount of data, maintenance becomes almost an impossible task. Glacier is built to be self-healing, thus performs regular data integrity checks on all files, and ensures that any object that is not verified is repaired.
Amazon Glacier Deep Archive
By introducing new features, Amazon is always looking for improvising on their products. AWS Deep Archive is a recent announcement as a new storage class for Glacier. Deep Archive is a very long-term storage solution that is even cheaper than Glacier’s Standard tier and is a perfect fit for keeping data sets for 7–10 years or longer.
Find the pricing details here.
Zmanda is a worldwide leader in open source backup and recovery software. It works as an all-in-one solution for backup and disaster recovery that protects ﬁles, servers, and entire data centers.
Zmanda ensures that its customers can always recover their data while making backup simple, secure, and cost-effective. Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) fits perfectly with this mission. To save a large amount of ‘cold data’ (infrequent access data), Zmanda adds lifecycle configuration to tell Amazon S3 to transition objects to Amazon S3 Glacier. For instance, if a user wants to archive objects that do not need to be accessed in real-time to the Glacier storage class.
How Zmanda Benefits the Customer?
For archiving and retrieving the archived object, the user does not have to use the AWS Console or AWS command-line interface. It can be done easily using Zmanda Management Console, i.e. the user does not have to know how to create a lifecycle rule which they will need to know if they are using AWS Command-line interface or AWS Console.
Stanford Medicine 2017 Health Trends Report Harnessing the Power of Data in Health https://med.stanford.edu/content/dam/sm/sm news/documents/StanfordMedicineHealthTrendsWhitePaper2017.pdf
“Where Should Healthcare Data Be Stored In 2018 - And Beyond?”
“Cloud Data Archiving: Long-Term Object Storage: Amazon Glacier.” aws.amazon.com/glacier/.
“What Is Amazon Glacier and When Should You Use It?” CloudRanger, 12 Dec. 2017,cloudranger.com/what-is-amazon-glacier/.
“Amazon Glacier: Use Cases and Considerations.” N2WS, 24 June 2019, n2ws.com/blog/amazon-glacier.
Also be sure to check out the Points to Include in Your Disaster Recovery Plan