Elastic File System: What You Need to Know

New AWS service: Elastic File System

During the keynote address at this year’s Amazon Web Services Summit in San Francisco, Andy Jassy officially announced the new AWS Elastic file system. Let’s talk a bit about the features and technical specifications you’ll soon see in EFS.

Before diving in, lets review AWS’s current storage options:

Elastic File System Icon
  • Simple Storage Service(S3): Amazon S3 provides access to reliable and inexpensive object storage. S3 stored objects are accessible over the Internet.
  • AWS Glacier: Glacier is an extremely low-cost storage service that provides highly secure, durable, and flexible long-term storage for data backup and archival.
  • Elastic Block Storage: Persistent block storage volumes for Amazon EC2 virtual machines.

AWS Elastic File System will add a fully managed file hosting/collaborating service aimed primarily at enterprise and development environments.

To get a jump start at AWS EFS, I recommend Cloud Academy’s Introduction to Amazon Elastic File System Course.

Elastic File System Features

  • Elastic File System will be simple and scalable.
  • Designed to use with AWS EC2 Instances.
  • Sharable across multiple ec2 instances.
  • Storage capacity (and cost) is automatically scaled up or down as you add or remove files.
  • Like most AWS services, you pay only for what you use.
  • Elastic File System files are stored across multiple Availability Zones within a region.
  • Amazon VPC security groups and network access control lists allow you to control network access to your EFS resources.
  • The cost of storage is based on the average monthly storage space used, at a rate of $0.30/GB-month (about twice the charge for a standard EBS volume).

Technical Specifications

  • SSD-based storage. Grow or shrink as needed.
  • Can grow to petabyte scale, with throughput and IOPS scaled accordingly.
  • Amazon EFS supports the Network File System version 4 (NFSv4) protocol.
  • Will use standard file and directory permissions (chown and chmod) to control access to the directories and files.
  • Setup and configuration are managed through the AWS Console, CLI, or SDKs.
  • EFS supports action-level and resource-level permissions.
  • Data can be accessed from any availability zone within a region.
  • Can be used seamlessly with database instances as storage – throughput and IOPS are scaled accordingly.

Setting up and accessing the Elastic File System from EC2 instances:

  1. Create a file system.
  2. Create a mount target.
  3. Enable an NFS client on your instances.
  4. Using standard mount commands, the remote file system will appear on your ec2 instances as a local partition.

Elastic File System: Use Cases

  • Applications running on more than one instance requiring access to a common file system.
  • Making reliably stored application code accessible from multiple EC2 instances in auto-scaling mode.
  • Store and use binary files as local maven repositories.

AWS Elastic File System is not yet publicly available, but preview access should soon be available upon request in the US West (Oregon) region.

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